Saturday, 31 December 2011

Whales In Cubicles - We Never Win

In all my time running this blog, one thing I always try to remind myself is not to jump to conclusions when looking at an artist. Just take London based Whales In Cubicles for example. Having taken a look at their name and the title of their upcoming single "We Never Win", I automatically assumed that the band are a politically charged band. Not that I've got a problem with explicitly political music (I love The Clash as much as anyone else). It's just that when looking at music with such messages, you might end up judging a song based upon whether you agree personally with the politics of the song rather than on the merit of the song itself, which can lead to much confusion.

However, it turns out I was wrong, as I learned that "We Never Win" wasn't written with a clear political motive, instead being more about being afraid to try. This 90s influenced rock tune benefits from its unusual rhythm structure (which I believe is in 13/4 time), and its slow burning anthemics, where the main vocal hook ("we never win") transfers from hushed resignation to an anthemic climax. Note to self - never judge a book by its cover.

"We Never Win" by Whales In Cubicles will be released on 23rd January as a limited edition vinyl on Young and Lost Club.

We Never Win by Whales In Cubicles

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Our Krypton Son - Catalonian Love Song

Melodramatic pop is the order of the day for Derry based Chris McConaghy & company, better known as Our Krypton Son. The debut single release, "Catalonian Love Song", is a smashing slice of romanticism that calls to mind both the work of Scott Walker, with echoes of Brett Anderson's recent single "Brittle Heart." Exquisite production, lush strings and a recurring piano riff make this one of the most ambitious songs to come out Derry in a long time.

"Catalonian Love Song" will be released on January 16th through Small Town America.

Catalonian Love Song by Our Krypton Son

Athletes In Paris - No Bridge, No Crossing Allowed

The last time we visited Sunderland based band Athletes In Paris, they were treating us to an infectious slice of indie-dance. Now several months on, the band have recorded a new song, which changes the pace entirely.

"No Bridge, No Crossing Allowed", which is available to download for free, is a sleek, sensual number, that mixes glam rock triplet beats with gang vocals and a sleek saxaphone riff (well, 2011 is the year of the sax after all). Whilst the song might be a nice diversion rather than a complete change of direction for the group, it's good to see how varied the band can be.

Sweet Jane - Nights in White Satin

Dublin based Sweet Jane have had something of a successful 2011. Their debut album, "Sugar For My Soul", released at the tail-end of last year, received rave reviews in the press, they played at the annual Glasgowbury Festival in Draperstown and perhaps most excitingly, they supported the mighty Suede during their trio of full album gigs in the Olympia Theatre (I caught them on the "Dog Man Star" night).

To finish off this whirlwind year, the group have released a cover of the Moody Blues' classic "Nights in White Satin." Taking a different approach to the original song, Sweet Jane's version calls to mind the sound of Mazzy Star, with its compressed drums and honeyed vocals of Lydia Des Dolles. It's as if the romanticism of the original has been replaced with existential angst in this version.

"Nights in White Satin" by Sweet Jane is available to download now.

Sweet Jane - Nights in White Satin on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Ottilia - Forty Million Light Years

Based on the demos currently posted on her Bandcamp page, 17 year-old Swedish artist Ottilia Kjulsten is most definitely an artist worth keeping an eye on. The tunes on offer show a real songcraft to them, and surprisingly offer a large amount of variety. "Dazed & Confused" is a tender, country tinged acoustic ballad not to dissimilar to early Laura Marling, whilst the tight beats of "Listening 2 Pictures" seem to offer a female perspective to The Strokes' seminal "Last Nite."

The highlight of the set however is "Forty Million Light Years," a quirky slice of feel good pop in the mould of Phoenix. With its "Close to Me" drums, delicate (faux) string arrangements, a funky as folk bassline, and of course Ottilia's passionate vocals, the song is a real delight from start to finish.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Francis Neve - Dance Around the Fire

Essex born Francis Neve released his latest single, "Dance Around the Fire", at the start of December. In the hands of a more tender troubador like Ed Sheeran, the song could have been just another standard singer/songwriter fare. However, Neve subverts this on the record, with the hushed guitar instead being replaced by an onslaught of percussion and synths the size of the Eiffel Tower.

Dance Around The Fire by Francis Neve

The Way Home - The Ship

Hailing from Suffolk, London based sextet The Way Home are a self proclaimed 'heavy gospel' group who take in influences from blues, rock, folk and country across their debut E.P.

"The Ship", the lead track from the E.P, is a six minute epic that takes in Janis Joplin, Black Mountain, as well as melodic similarites to "Angel Dance" and, perhaps surprisingly, "Hand in My Pocket" by Alanis Morissette

"The Ship E.P" will be released on February 13th.

Emperors Club - Sham Sham

Within hours of Emperors Club making my list of bands to watch out for in 2012, the Iowa quintet released a new song that justifies my support for them.

"Sham Sham", which is available to download for free, continues the band's penchant for mixing American rock with British influences. A more laidback affair, the song mixes soulful Americana with influences from Arctic Monkeys' and soaring harmony vocals that Teenage Fanclub would kill for. Although the song doesn't have the immediacy, nor punch that "Our Time" had, it is a good song that opens the door to a varying sound for Emperors Club.

Sham Sham by Emperors Club

Monday, 19 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's Tips for '12 - Part 2

Part two of The Metaphorical Boat's tips for 2012 features five bands from outside Ireland, and includes one from the USA, and two from Leeds (believe me, I'm surprised as well).

Emperors Club

The only American based group on the list, Iowa based quintet Emperors Club form the missing link between American alt-rock and Britpop, with the band citing both The Charlatans and Big Star as influences on their sound. Their debut E.P, October's "The Castle", is a fantastic introduction to the band, from the spiky title track, through to the Stroke 9 meets McAlmont & Butler grooves of "Our Time", through to the David Gray-esque "Brooklyn" showing a band with a classic sound, updated to the 10s.

With a full length album planned in the next year, the next 12 months should see the rise to power of Emperors Club.

The Castle by Emperors Club


Based on their latest E.P, "Imperial Godess of Mercy", Oxford based quintet Fixers could be best decribed as psychedelic indie rock with shades of Animal Collective. However, the group are not afraid to embrace pop, as evidenced from their siren sampling single "Swimmhaus Johannesburg" (a song that surprisingly made the daytime playlist on BBC Radio 1).

The start of 2012 will see the group supporting Kaiser Chiefs on tour, before re-releasing "Iron Deer Dream" in February, followed by an album release around April.


Since rock music fell largely out of favour with the general public around 2008, every end-of year tip list has featured at least one artist that promises to bring rock hurtling back into the mainstream. The Drums were on many pundits lists in 2010, whilst the hopes of 2011 were very much put on the shoulders of The Vaccines. Could 2012 be the year of Camden fourpiece Tribes? Having released three strong singles in 2011, the most recent of which being "When My Day Comes", the band have built up a reputation for their youthful, Britpop inspired tunes and raucious live performances.

A timely re-release of the single that made me fall in love with the group in the first place, "We Were Children", is being released ahead of their debut album "Baby", released on January 16th. Their guitarist Dan's taboid friendly relationship with Scarlett Johannson should keep them firmly in the public eye over the next 12 months.

This Many Boyfriends
Leeds based "funpop" band This Many Boyfriends came to my attention during the summer through their fantastic "Young Lovers Go Pop!" single. However, they have been together for many years, releasing an E.P in 2010, featuring such charming songs such as "I Can Be a Communist" and "I Don't Like You (Cos You Don't Like the Pastels)".

With a single on Angular Records under their belt, the band are shaping up for 2012 to be their biggest year yet, with a new single scheduled for February (complete with a silly fanzine drawn by the band), gigs with Allo Darlin', and the possibility of an album before the end of the year. Let's hope that the fun continues with This Many Boyfriends.

Various Cruelties

When a band plays on Later...With Jools Holland before they've even released an album, they are surely destined for great things (or have a brilliant PR/management team, although the two are not always mutually exclusive). This bodes well for London (via Leeds) based Various Cruelties, whose appearence on the flagship show has seen a boost in their popularity, even making the Radio 1 playlist this week with "Great Unknown".

It could be possible to compare their chances to those of The Vaccines last year, who had only been together for a few months before being signed in a flurry of hype and also playing on the aformentioned BBC2 show before releasing a single. The band even supported The Vaccines in their earliest days together. However, that is where the comparisons end, for whilst The Vaccines trade in angular indie rock, Various Cruelties offer a more soulful approach to their music, with Motown influences abound.

Their debut album will be released on April 2nd.

And those are The Metaphorical Boat's tips for 2012. Do you agree with the suggestions, or are there any other artists that you feel should be making a mark in the next year? Be sure to leave a comment to let me know.

The Metaphorical Boat's Tips for '12 - Part 1

After spending the past 2 weeks looking back at the best releases of 2011, it is time for The Metaphorical Boat to look ahead to the bands that hopefully will be making waves in 2012.

The 10 acts that feature in the countdown are ones that have not yet released an album that I hope will make a mark in 2012. The first part will look at artists from Northern Ireland that I have high hopes for in the next 12 months, whilst part 2 will look at bands from the rest of the world.


With their stadium-folk sound, Antrim sextet Amidships are a band of epic proportions. With a 7 track E.P under their belt ("Friendly Fire"), and an increasingly devoted live following, 2012 could see the group break into the consciousness of the UK music scene.

Oceans & Layers by Amidships

Rams’ Pocket Radio

Lisburn based piano-rock artist Peter McCauley, aka Rams' Pocket Radio, is an artist that has been on my radar for some time, ever since I heard the demo of "Dogs Run In Packs" back in 2009.

2011 has been his best year yet, with the support of 6music's Tom Robinson leading him to playing a storming Glastonbury set over the summer. The momentum has increased with the recent DRIP EP, showcasing the extent of the artist's power-piano style. With a new E.P planned for the new year, hopefully we'll be hearing a lot more of Rams' Pocket Radio in the new year.

Sons of Caliber
Belfast based 5-piece Sons of Caliber ply their trade with their own brand of folk, full of guy/girl harmonies and poetic, heart-on-sleeve lyrics. In the past year they've developed as an intriguing live prospect, and tracks such as "My Way of Thinking" and "Falling For You" have shown their knack for writing memorable, pastoral tunes. With an E.P due in the new year, we should be hearing more from the band in the near future.

Window Seats

Belfast based heavy rock band Window Seats have been releasing singles for a few years now. But in the past few months their profile has increased after the release of their "Frozen Bones E.P", as well as the IMTV award nominated video for "Local Superhero." With tunes such as "Juliette's Letter" in their arsenal, the next 12 months should be an exciting time for the trio.

Their entire back catalogue is available to download for free from their Bandcamp page.

Window Seats - Juliette's Letter by Window Seats

The Wonder Villains
As I have mentioned on many occasions, I am a massive fan of the Derry four-piece's sugary pop sound. If there was a definition for "fun" in the pop dictionary (if such a dictionary existed), I'm sure you would find a picture of The Wonder Villains staring back at you. I mean, how many other artists do you know that use their Twitter feed to organize games of rounders? Not Radiohead, I can tell you that.

With the impending release of their second single "Ferrari", which features lyrics about swapping a sibling for a Charizard, amongst other things, things are looking rather rosy for the band. Let's just hope that we get a music video from the guys in the near future. If there's ever been a band whose songs are audio-visually friendly, it's The Wonder Villains.

Ferrari by The Wonder Villains

Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's Top 10 Albums of 2011

After the countdown of The Metaphorical Boat's top tracks of 2011, it is time to move on to the 10 albums that really got me excited this year.

Although I have tried to add a semblance of order, I must admit that unlike individual tracks, chosing an order for albums can prove to be a lot more tricky. For example, should you judge an album on the basis of individual songs or on how well the album flows together? If an album has 3 of the best songs ever made, and the rest just filler, should it be seen as a better album than one with a brilliant song and several good ones? As such, many of the albums on the list could have easily have ended up in a different position.

The only exception to this however is my number 1 album of the year, a position it found itself in from the moment I heard it all the way to the end of the year.

But anyway, here are The Metaphorical Boat's favourite albums of 2011:

10. The Leisure Society - Into the Murky Water (Full Time Hobby)

The Ivor Novello nominated folk collective released their 2nd album in 2011, which continued their pursuit of emotive, pop-orientated folk. Their use of unusual instruments, such as the piccolo, the harpsichord and the marimba (which dominates the title track of the record), helps them to stand out from the crowd.

9. Foster the People - Torches (Columbia)

Anyone who bought Foster the People's album expecting a record full of "Pumped Up Kicks" style alternative rock would have been in for a welcome surprise when they opened the cellophane wraper of "Torches" and listened to it for the first time. As if the production credits of Greg Kurstin (The Bird & the Bee, Lily Allen) didn't give the game away, the album is dominated by smart, synth-pop tunes, such as the lead single "Houdini", infectious "Call It What You Want", and the drum-driven "Helena Beat."

8. Emmy the Great - Virtue (Absolute)

Most people know the story about the making of this album by heart by now - Emma-Lee Moss and her fiance split up after he became a Christian and left to be a missionary, after which she poured her heart into what would become the second Emmy the Great album, "Virtue." Moss is one of the most intelligent, poetic songwriters of her generation. Whilst the lyrics by themselves make for great poetry, when coupled with her honeyed vocals and understated production, the words reach new heights. "Cassandra" deals with the Greek seer, whilst "Trellick Tower", the tear-jerking closing track, is the most direct song about her break-up ("Now I'm a relic of a time gone by, kneeling to address the sky"). I'm still none the wiser as to what "Dinosaur Sex" is about, besides the obvious.

7. The Vaccines - What Did You Expect From...? (Columbia)

The Vaccines' debut album is one that I have had a love/apathetic relationship with over the past year. Whilst I adore the sub-2 minute punk-pop of "Norgaard", "Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)", the rest of the album didn't excite my for a long time. The good news is that by the end of the year, it finally clicked with me. Although The Vaccines might not have been the saviors of rock that they had been predicted at the start of the year, they definately put up a great fight on their debut album. "If You Wanna" calls to mind the fun times of the mid 00s indie rock revival, whilst "Wetsuit" and "All in White" show that the band are just as good with the slow songs (even if the former does sound like "Campus" by Vampire Weekend played at the wrong speed). What sealed the deal for me was the hidden track, "Somebody Else's Child", a lo-fi piano track about being raised by a different father, showing the tender side to the band's repertoire.

6. Elbow - Build a Rocket Boys! (Fiction)

If ever there was a band that demonstrated why the album format isn't dead in the MP3 era, then Elbow would be it. Describing the album as the first where the band weren't under the risk of the axe if it went wrong, the band put out an album free from big radio hits. But what it lacks in 3 minute ditties, it more than makes up for in heart and emotion. From the sprawling 8 minute opener of "The Birds", through the tender "Lippy Kids" and the stadium sized "Open Arms", the Mancunian boys have made an album that flows perfectly from start to finish, and is all the better for it.

5. Shonen Knife - Free Time (Damnably)

Despite their 30 year career, I had never heard of Japanese pop-punk trio Shonen Knife before this year. That all changed when I was wowed by their Belfast gig in August, and immediately bought their most recent album, "Free Time." While they might not win awards for lyrical philosophy ("Rock & Roll Cake" is about wanting to sleep inside a pastry), they more than make up for it in pure, unadulterated fun. From the opening track "Perfect Freedom", through to "Capybara", a reggae tinged ode to a South American rodent, the group will have you smiling throughout. Even their attempt at a political song, "Economic Crisis", has a sense of playfulness to it (sample lyric: "Breakout! Breakout! Where's the missing money?")

4. Jonny -
Jonny (Merge Records)

Norman Blake (of Teenage Fanclub) and Euros Childs of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci got together to record an album, taking in all types of genres and styles that influenced them over the years. The result of this was Jonny.

The self-titled album spans across genres like glam-rock (on the opening track "Wich is Wich"), Beatles-esque power-pop ("English Lady"), and even some tracks that call to mind the artist's main bands ("Circling the Sun" could have easily fit onto the Fannie's "Grand Prix" album). The absolute highlight of the set is "Cave Dance", which starts as a rock and roll stomper about the first caveman rockers, which morphs into an 11 minute prog-rock belter. There is a kaleidoscope of sounds on "Jonny", which means that there is bound to be something on the album at anyone can enjoy.

3. Brett Anderson - Black Rainbows (EMI)

On his fourth solo album, his first to be released on a major record label since his Suede days, Brett Anderson chose to go back to his roots and record his first solo rock album.

The recording process for the album was a rather strange one, particularly for a solo artist. His band (which featureed producer Leo Abrahams and drummer supremo Seb Rochford) would spend several days jamming it out, after which Brett picked 10 individual parts that he liked and worked out melodies and lyrics for each of these. This spontaneous method of writing bore fruit on "Black Rainbows", which is easily the best thing Brett has done outside of Suede (and The Tears).

2. The Go! Team - Rolling Blackouts (Memphis Industries)

The third (and quite possibly final) album from The Go! Team sees the group take on a more live-orientated sound on tracks such as "Buy Nothing Day" and "Ready to Go Steady", as well as harking back to the 'traditional' girl-group hip-hop sound of The Go! Team on "T.O.R.N.A.D.O" and "Voice Yr Choice", whilst also fitting in two short quirky instrumentals; "Super Triangle" and "Lazy Poltergeist". If this is the record that signals the end for the group, I can't see a better way of epitomising what made me fall in love with the group.

1. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Belong (PIAS)

And my favourite album goes to The Pains Of Being Pure at Heart with their superb sophomore album "Belong". After their debut album become something of a surprise hit, the group did the smart thing of taking everything that was good about their debut album and amlpifying it. Just like the kids on the debut album's cover have moved from black and white to something much more colourful, so too has the sound of the band. The distracting lo-fi production of the debut has been replaced by an expansive production aesthetic, as masterminded by uber-producer Flood. 80s influences domiate the proceedings this time around, with "Heart in Your Heartbreak", "Belong" & "Even In Dreams" being the highlights of this indie-pop set.

After the initial promise of their debut, "Belong" is the album that the band knew they could make, and they did a fantastic job of it. The only question now is, how can they possibly follow a perfect album?

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 - Number 1

Well, after a week of counting down 49 on my favourite songs of the year, the time has come to reveal what song has topped the countdown. And what a song it is:

1. The Vaccines - Norgaard

"Her mind's made up, she don't wanna go steady.
She's only seventeen, so she's probably not ready
A-M-A-N-D-A Norgaard
I saw you on a cover on Cross Bay Boulevard."

So the song that most sums up 2011 for The Metaphorical Boat is "Norgaard", The Vaccines' punk-pop song about a run-in with a Danish model. Whilst the song isn't complex (containing only three chords throughout), philosophical, nor boundary breaking (The Ramones or Eddie & the Hot Rods are frequently cited as comparisons), the song's 98 seconds serves it purpose well - to have a great time. Isn't that what rock music should be about?

Photo of The Vaccines is © Leon Diaper

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 - 5-2

We're nearly at the end of the line. But before we reveal what has been crowned The Metaphorical Boat's top song of 2011, let's see what songs were pipped at the post:

5. Brett Anderson - Brittle Heart

Reinvigorated by his return to the reformed Suede, Brett Anderson returned to what he does best on his 4th solo album by making a straight-up rock record. "Brittle Heart" was the first fruits of his new found energy, with thundering drums, turned-up to 11 guitars, and of course Brett Anderson's trademark lyrics. "I'll give you carpet burns and antiseptic skies," he informs us, somewhat menacingly, somewhat lovingly.

4. M83 - Midnight City

The track that truly broke M83 into the public's consciousness in 2011. Whilst it might not have set the charts alight, "Midnight City" has been seemingly ever present since its release over the summer, being used as bed music for hundreds of TV shows, heavily playlisted on alternative radio stations, and being played consistently in nightclubs. Perhaps the closest to a pop song the group will ever release, "Midnight City" features an infectious synth riff, plus one of the greatest use of a saxophone in a song since possibly "Baker Street."

3. Gypsy & The Cat - The Piper's Song

With their glo-fi electro-pop tunes in the vein of MGMT and Empire of the Sun, 2011 should have been the year that Gypsy & the Cat conquered the world. Alas, it seems as if the band will have to settle for conquering their native Australia (where their debut album went gold). Still, when the band can crank out hits like "The Piper's Song", surely they can only stay that way for so much longer.

"The Piper's Song" combines elements of the aforementioned bands with a strong 80s production aesthetic (I convinced a friend to download the song by describing it to him as "Toto in Technicolour").

2. The Go! Team - Buy Nothing Day

"Buy Nothing Day" seems to have been the moment where The Go! Team stopped being a vehicle for Ian Patton's smorgasbord approach to making music, and became a fully fledged indie-rock band.

Featuring guest vocals from Beth Cosentino of Best Coast borrows the energy from The Go! Team's "Huddle Formation", but adds roaring guitars, fun vocals, and even enough room for a vibraphone solo. If the stories about The Go! Team's latest album being their final one is true, then it's great that they can leave us with such a fantastic song.

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 -10-6

We're almost at the end of the road, with only ten songs left in the countdown. This section covers songs ranked 10-6, and also features a little bit about what I adore about each one.

10. Mazes - Most Days

Kicking off the top 10 is "Most Days" by Manchester quartet Mazes. The maxim of the band appears to be "why spend too much precious time creating post-3 minute songs when you can do it better in under 2? So in 108 seconds, the band fit in two verses and an infectious guitar riff, before changing the melody completely for the last 40 seconds, incorporating elements of punk, indie-rock, pop and surf without feeling either convoluted nor rushed.

9. Tribes - We Were Children

When I first heard "We Were Children" back in May, my initial thought was that it sounded like a Manic Street Preachers b-side. As anyone who has ever heard "Mr Carbohydrate" will testify to, that is not an insult. "We Were Children" is a Britpop meets The Pixies anthem which longs for a better time, in this case, the mid 90s. And who wouldn't want to go back to then?

8. The Wonder Villains - Zola

Derry based electro-pop The Wonder Villains have been floating around for a few years now, but 2011 has been the year where the world has started to really pay attention to them.

Released in October and produced by Rocky O'Reilly (formerly of Oppenheimer), "Zola" was the group's first 'official' single release, and contains all the elements that make them such an exciting group - fun, pop-culture infused lyrics and bouncy melodies dominate the song, which is an affectionate tribute to Chelsea's diminutive striker Gianfranco Zola. Listen to the song just once, and you feel as giddy as a 7 year old after consuming £1's worth of pixie sticks.

7. Jonny - Candyfloss

And from one sugary song to another. Jonny is a collaborative duo guaranteed to bring a smile to any indie kid's face, comprising of Normal Blake (Teenage Fanclub) and Euro Childs, formerly of Gorky's Zygotic Mynci. "Candyfloss" features both gorgeous melodies and a real sense of fun that seems to have been lacking on Teenage Fanclub's most recent material.

6. Foster The People - Pumped Up Kicks

"Pumped Up Kicks" has been one of the unlikeliest monster hits of the year (and I mean monster - at the time of writing, the official video has been viewed over 47 million times). The song puts a greater emphasis on atmosphere rather than out and out pop hooks, adding a sense of menace to its rather foreboding lyrics. It's also home to perhaps the most sinister whistling in a pop song in 2011.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 - 20-11

We're one step closer to announcing The Metaphorical Boat's favourite song of 2011. Here are the tracks ranked from 20-11 in the countdown, and includes artists from England, USA, France, Sweden & Japan.

20. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

Belong by The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

19. The 2 Bears - Bear Hug

18. Justice - Civilization

17. James Blake - Limit To Your Love

16. Eugene McGuiness - Lion

15. Noah and the Whale - L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.

14. Petter Seander - When Something Dies

13. Emperor's Club - Our Time

Our Time by Emperors Club

12. Shonen Knife – Perfect Freedom

11. This Many Boyfriends - Young Lovers Go Pop!

Young Lovers Go Pop! by This Many Boyfriends

Monday, 12 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 - 30-21

The third part of The Metaphorical Boat's countdown of 2011 contains tracks ranked from 30-21, and includes beasts, herons and birds, plus two great bands from Northern Ireland at numbers 22 & 21.

30. Asian Dub Foundation - A History Of Now

29. Battles - Ice Cream

WARNING - video contains very sexy imagery.

28. Foster the People - Houdini

27. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - AKA...What A Life!

26. Gil Scott-Heron & Jamie xx - I’ll Take Care of U

25. Wild Beasts - Reach a Bit Further

Reach A Bit Further by Wild Beasts

24. White Lies - Bigger Than Us

23. Elbow – Lippy Kids

Lippy Kids by Elbow

22. Amidships - The One

The One by Amidships

21. Cashier No.9 - Oh Pity

Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 - 40-31

The second part of the countdown of The Metaphorical Boat's songs of 2011 covers number 40-31, and contains the biggest (non U2) band in the world, a reformed 90s band, and an ode to losing a girl whilst eating a Chinese.

40. Coldplay - Paradise

39. Morning Teleportation - Expanding Anyway

38. 2:54 - Scarlet

37. King Charles - Bam Bam

Bam Bam by King Charles

36. The City and Horses - We Will Never Be Discovered

The City and Horses - We Will Never Be Discovered by Paper Garden Records

35. Pop Will Eat Itself - Chaos and Mayhem

34. My Morning Jacket - Holdin' On To Black Metal

33. The Joy Formidable - Cradle

Cradle by The Joy Formidable

32. South Central -The Day I Die

WARNING: This video contains graphic images.

31. Biscuithead and the Biscuit Badgers - The Seaweed Under the Sofa

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The Metaphorical Boat's top songs of 2011 - 50-41

Well, we're coming to the end of 2011, and the end of the first calender year of The Metaphorical Boat. Since I started the blog, I have discovered so much brillant music, so whittling down the year's best songs to a final 50 proved to be quite a tough task indeed. There were so many great songs that unfortunately did not make the cut, but the fifty that did will hold a special place in my memory when I look back at this monumental year.

First up, we have the countdown from 50-41, which includes a Mercury Prize winner, a comedy hair-metal band, the world's most famous rapper, and two great bands from Northern Ireland:

50. Metronomy – The Look

49. PJ Harvey - The Words That Maketh Murder

48. Young The Giant - My Body

47. Steel Panther - If You Really, Really Love Me

46. The Vals - Look to the One

45. Deerhoof -Super Duper Rescue Heads !

44. Eminem - Space Bound

43. Very Truly Yours - Girls Tell You Secrets

Girls Tell You Secrets by Very Truly Yours

42. Snow Patrol - Called Out In The Dark

41. Nero - Me & You

Friday, 9 December 2011

Wildswim - The Fallout

Listening to "The Fallout" by Oxford based quintet Wildswim, you would be hard pressed to realise that the band are still all in their teens, and even more surprised that the youngsters haven't been picked up by a record label yet. From the opening flanged kick drum, to the last symbol crash, we hear the sound of a band with a surprisingly sophisticated sound.

In terms of comparisons, the baroque stylings of Wild Beasts would be a good starting point, particularly the baritone vocals of Richard Sansom, which are quite similar to those of Tom Fleming. However, their sound also contains elements of dance production, with house keyboard riffs featuring prominently through the latter part of the song.

It's a striking introduction to the world of Wildswim, it will be interesting to hear how the band develops over the next few months.

The Fallout by WILDSWIM

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The Ghosts - Enough Time

London based quintet The Ghosts (not to be confused with the band responsible for "Stay the Night") was formed by singer/songwriter Alex Starling after the tragic end to the band he played keyboards for, Ou Est Le Swimming Pool. The quintet make psychedelic synth-pop that treads the line between Pet Shop Boys and Empire of the Sun.

Their debut single, "Enough Time", is a great introduction to the band's sound, with the soaring falsetto of Alex Starling acting as the perfect foil for the cacophony of electronics that overpower the song. The music video for the track is a bit of a mind melt, but thoroughly enjoyable

"Enough Time" will be released on January 15th, with a debut album to follow in April.

Susie Soho - Your Way or Not at All

Irish quartet Susie Soho seem to have ticked all the right boxes for success in this country. Nominated for a Meteor Award? Check. Played at Oxegen? Check. Support slots with Damien Rice, Bell XI and The Frames, the trinity of the Republic's music scene? Check. All they need is the right sound, and surely fame and fortune is assured.

Their latest single, "Your Way or Nothing at All", is a fantastic, driving alt-rock track, which seemed to be tailor made for stadium antics, with it's "Ooh oh" hooks just waiting to be used in a call and response fashion.

"Your Way or Not at All" is taken from the E.P "Twelve Twenty Seven", which is available as a free download from the band's website.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Album Review - Time Out Presents London: Songs to Define the City

It's a shame that in the digital era, where playlists can be customized at the click of a mouse, that compilation albums seem to be becoming less relevant. Some compilations go on to invent entire genres (such as the legendary C86), whilst others carries personal memories for the listener (The Chartbusters compilation from 1997 still brings back memories of my first time in France as a child).

Released on 28th November, Universal, along with Time Out Magazine, released the compilation album "London: Songs to Define the City." The album is an assortment of songs about England's capital city, aiming to serve as "a musical souvenir of the world's music capital."

The twenty songs on the album seem to be targeted at a safe, middle class audience, with songs from Jamie Cullum, The Kinks and Roxy Music being among the artists featured. That isn't to say that it's a bad album. Although there is the odd clunker on the record (the aforementioned Cullum's "London Skies" is almost devoid of emotion) it is filled with cracking tunes.

Gerry Rafferty's "Baker Street" is as captivating as ever, "Piccadilly" by Squeeze is a bouncy treat, whilst Pulp's wry tribute Frith Street's coffee shop "Bar Italia" is a welcome inclusion.

Whilst some of the songs on the album might not portray London in the most positive light (how the wonderful "Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant made it on to the album, with its opening line of "out in the streets there is violence", remains a mystery), the album is a decent tribute to a city that has been the setting of so many captivating stories.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Conor Mason - Passing Colours

I sure do love it when I hear a song from this isle that completely blows me away. "Passing Colours" by Derry based musician Conor Mason is a tender piano ballad, with a voice that is wiser than his years, and filled with luscious harmonies guaranteed to leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. Just try to resist the inevitable comparisons to Bon Iver, if you can help it.

The song is available as a free download, so grab it while it's tender.

Passing Colours by Conor Mason

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Martin John Henry - Ribbon on a Bough

I love it when you form an image of an artist in your head based upon their album art, only for you preconceptions to be proved wrong once you take the time to listen to it. Take the debut album of Scottish singer/songwriter Martin John Henry, formerly of De Rosa. The artwork of the album, "The Other Half Of Everything", seems to give the impression of an album of pastoral, King Creosote-eque.

However, dig beneath the surface, and you'll find electronic infused gems, such as the lead single, "Ribbon on a Bough," which sounds like the lovechild of M83 and Stornoway. Who says that being lulled into a false sense of security is a bad thing?

Friday, 18 November 2011

Codes - This is Goodbye

This isn't really a new song, but its eventual UK release is an event that I've waited three long years for.

I first heard Irish electro-rockers Codes when they supported Maps in the Spring & Airbrake back in 2008. Intrigued by their style, I picked up a copy of "This is Goodbye", and fell in love with it immediately, becoming my summer song that year.

The next year, they signed to Sony Ireland and re-recorded the song for inclusion on their debut album "Trees Dream in Algebra". Whilst I still prefered the original version (being the quasi-hipster that I am), the song retained everything that made it special in the first place, with it's 'grey whilstle test approved' hook and the empassioned vocal delivery from Daragh Anderson.

I saw Codes for the second time in 2010, when they played in the Limelight (supported by The Delays, strangely enough). With a stadium support slot with Keane between the two concerts, it was obvious that the band's showmanship had improved dramatically, with the energy of the room increasing tenfold when the group stormed their way through their set. Even more excitingly, I got the opportunity to interview Darragh for Queen's Radio, where we talked about, amongst other things, what the name of their album, "Trees Dream in Algebra", really means.

Fast forward to 2011, and Codes are finally gearing up to release their debut album in the UK. In anticipation of its release, they have made a cracking new video for "This is Goodbye", and have made the track available as a free download for a limited time. With a promotional push and a UK wide tour underway, it is my hope that the track finally gets the attention that it truly deserves.

This is Goodbye by Codes