Friday, 30 November 2012

The Metaphorical Boat's Tips for 2013 - Part II

After looking at artists from Northern Ireland that are worth looking out for in 2013, it is time for The Metaphorical Boat to cast its net further afield to see which artists from the rest of the world are worth keeping an eye on next year.

And we begin with:

 6. Public Service Broadcasting

It's safe to say that J. Willgoose Esq., aided and abetted by his companion Wriggleworth, have had a wonderful year recording as Public Service Broadcasting. Having started the year with a low profile and a name which made them incredibly difficult to search for on Google, they ended it with a sold-out tour of the UK.

The public have been won over with their combination of old public information films and forward thinking electro-rock production. Whether it's tackling the dawn of coloured television on "Roygbiv", the pinnacle of human achievement on "Everest", or the truths of World War II on their E.P "The War Room" (which has sold over 10,000 copies to date), Public Service Broadcasting have set out their stall as one of the most consistently original musical concepts. With their first album scheduled for May, there will surely be countless people who will be educated and entertained by the group.

7. The 1975

Manchester based quartet The 1975 have been around for some time now under different guises, first coming to people's attention under the names Drive Like I Do and B I G S L E E P. Since adopting their current guise, they have built up a considerable buzz through two well-received E.Ps, "The City" in July and "Sex" this month. Their heavy Britpop influenced styling and their lovely, deep drums have slowly won me over to their side. Having already received major support from Radio 1, and with their debut album scheduled for next year, things do look like they'll go The 1975's way, backlash aside.

8. Seasfire

Bristol based Seasfire have won over the hearts of many bloggers with their forward-thinking approach to rock music.Their self-titled E.P, including the wonderful "Heartbeat", got under our skin, whilst their upcoming E.P, "We Will Wake", seems to take on a more pop orientated sound. Given their seemingly endless spells at the top of The Hype Machine's chart, I imagine that 2013 will see the beginning of Seasfire's journey into the mainstream consciousness.

9. Ottilia

Born in Sweden but currently based in London, Ottilia first came to my attention through her self-posted quirky pop numbers at the end of last year. Since then, she has hooked up with producer Ed Harcourt, and altered her style into a timeless, Lana Del Rey-esque chanteuse. It's somewhat different from the artist I originally fell in love with just under a year ago, but with strong songs like "The Sonic" and "Heartless" in her arsenal, it's hard for me to complain.

With a tour supporting Willy Mason upcoming, and a debut album on the horizon, 2013 should be a positive year for Miss Kjulsten. 

10. B>E>A>K

And I conclude this year's tips with something of an oddball offering. North-east avian supergroup B>E>A>K probably won't go on to worldwide mega-stardom in 2013, but at the very least, they will have copious amounts of fun next year. Their instrumental 'bird-rock' has gone down a tweet with me, and with a devoted live local following, and an upcoming release, "The Blue Edition", due to hatch in January, 2013 will most definitely not be a fowl year for the sextet. 

Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Metaphorical Boat's Tips for 2013 - Northern Ireland

It's that time of the year again where it's time to look into the blog's crystal ball to see which artists I am tipping for big things in 2013. As is customary for The Metaphorical Boat, the tips will be split into two different parts - the first five artists will be from my home turf, Northern Ireland, whilst the five in the second part will be from the rest of the world.

And we begin with:

1. Wonder Villains

It does feel like a cheat to include an artist on this list who featured last year, but in the case of Derry group Wonder Villains, I feel that it is richly deserved. Throughout 2012, the group have continued to impress with their incredibly fun, popular culture infused pop music. They have released two wonderful E.Ps this year. "Ferrari" and "TV", which have seen them gain heavy airplay on BBC 6music and Radio 1. They have made several television appearances, including performing on RTE's Late Late Show. On top of this, they have come into their own as a live act. I have had the pleasure of seeing them live four times in the past 12 months, and every time I've seen them I have came away with a massive grin on my face.

Next year will see the release of their long awaiting debut album "Rocky", a release that should establish the group firmly as Europe's most fun pop group, albeit one who are unmistakable from our wee province. After all, how many bands do you know that dress up as the Harland and Wolff Shipyard for Halloween?


In all my time obsessing over local music, I haven't seen an artist that have been so beloved by Northern Irish broadcasters from all sides of the spectrum than 16-year-old Derry singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, who records under the name SOAK. Having been unknown at the start of the year, she's received support from Across The Line,  Electric Mainline through to Stuart Baillie and even mid-morning legend Gerry Anderson himself in 2012. I don't think I've ever seen such fervor for one artist from our neck of the woods, but in SOAK's case, the attention has been very much deserved.

The music of SOAK is like the echoes of a soul, something both deeply personal and vulnerable yet engaging at the same time, with wonderful songs like "Sea Creatures" and the Radio 1 playlisted "Fingers Crossed" showing off her emotive sound. I think that she's got a lot of room to grow as a songwriter, but in terms of raw talent, there's very few artist of her age who can match her. With continued national radio support, as well as an upcoming support slot for Snow Patrol, 2013 is going to be a glorious year for Bridie.

3. Rainy Boy Sleep

And our final Derry based tip is Stevie Martin, who records under the name Rainy Boy Sleep. 2012 has been a good year for the artist, having been on tour with both James Morrison and Ray Davies. He also released the fantastic "Shopping Centre Song" EP, which combines his earnest singer/songwriter sound with  interesting production techniques, to critical acclaim. He even found time to out in a guest appearances with fellow county dwellers Ruairi & The Owls.

With his debut album "Vantage Points" penciled in for release early next year, 2013 looks likely to be just as promising for Rainy Boy Sleep.

4. Eatenbybears

The best way to really make an impact on the local scene is to ensure that you sound nothing like other bands in your city. This is why Belfast based shifty-pop group Eatenbybears have really shone through in 2012. Having already introduced their signature mixture of unusual rhythms, loud guitars, keyboard noodling and occasional fiddle breakdowns in 2011, the band furthered their sound with two solid singles - the summery bounce of "Simple As Hell" and the darker, more introverted "Your Pet Is Dead." If the group can keep up this onslaught of effective material, then 2013 will well and truly be their year.

5. Amateur Historians

And concluding these NI centric tips is Belfast based alt-rock poppers Amateur Historians. The group first grabbed me with the short, sharp "These Cities Are Stealing My Soul", a song that instantly brought up comparisons to Ash. The subsequent release of their debut E.P "New Homes/New Hopes" helped to showcase an added depth to their sound. With a few new tracks in the pipeline for next year, it will be interesting to see if the group can keep up this spiky energy in 2013.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Album Review: The Zolas - Ancient Mars

(Light Organ Records)

"Ancient Mars" is the follow-up release from Canadian duo The Zolas. Having previously been members of cult indie-rockers Lotus Child, the group released their debut album, the cabaret inspired "Tic Toc Tic", back in 2009. According to the band, they have "traded in the cabaret glitz...for reverbed pianos and tough, minimalist production" in the intervening years, something which shines through over the album's 40 minutes.

The album kicks off with "In Heaven", a track which kicks off with a simple piano line, erupts in a chorus of guitar lines before reaching a serene conclusion. This is followed by the album's stand-out track, "Hole In My Heart", which features a glorious, ELO sounding chorus and wonderful lovelorn lyrics. 

Elements of spaced-out rock with a pop aesthetic appear throughout the record, which is quite apt given its name. The title track is a blissed-out jam with lyrics about wanting to be able to travel back in time, whilst "Escape Artist" goes from sincere piano balladry into something slightly far out over its running time. "Strange Girl" is the closest the band get to a proper rock track, in spite of featuring a Wurlitzer throughout, and "Observer", the album's other big pop number, features some wonderful uses of dynamics.

The only real disappointing tracks on the album are the ones that have been left to the very end. The minimalist, lo-fi approach to "Cold Moon" remains somewhat distracting and out of place given the music that has preceded it, and whilst bonus track "Cultured Man" does improve things a little, it doesn't live up to the earlier tracks' promise. 

"Ancient Mars" by The Zolas is a decent album by a group who don't consider pop to be a dirty word. It's a record that features great choruses and well thought-out production, yet one that doesn't feel artificial or laboured. 

Released: 3rd December 2012

Highlights: "Knot In My Heart", "Observatory".

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

HOWL - Samson

The sound of new Belfast based quartet HOWL has most likely been arrived at by throwing as many disparate parts into the mix as humanly possible and hoping that the end product is listenable. From the sound of their debut single, "Samson", they might have just pulled it off. 

The intro is very much inspired by "Woods" by Bon Iver, before veering firmly into indie-rock territory with faux-soulful vocals. The song is rounded off with lounge trumpet lines and ambient interludes. Their magpie styling might not be to everybody's taste, but it does serve as an interesting introduction to a band who are  happy not to follow the crowd. 

"Samson" is available to download now on a pay-what-you-like basis. 

Monday, 26 November 2012

Moses Luster & the Hollywood Lights - Hollywood's Black Heart

American group Moses Luster & the Hollywood Lights ply their trade in making Tom Waits-esque songs featuring lowlifes and down-and-outs with a slight electronic twist. This can be most evidenced on the track "Hollywood's Black Heart", which tells the seedy tale of the dark underbelly of the most glamorous city in the world. The production mixes pianos and banjos with electronic basslines and synthlines, and makes for a rather unique sound.

"Hollywood's Black" appears on the group's sophomore album, "Stands Alone", which is available to download on a pay-what-you-like basis.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers - Dinosaurs

It's always nice to see new musical offerings from Leeds based quartet Biscuithead & The Biscuit Badgers. Their single "Seaweed Under the Sofa" was one of the funniest tunes of last year, I fact I learned to my detriment last year when I played the song on my radio show, only to burst out into fits of laughter for the next 2 minutes along with my co-host. 

Their latest single, "Dinosaurs", treads a similar path to their last single, featuring ukulele, piano, and tuba powered basslines that would seem more at place in the music halls of the early 20th century than the present day. But as always, the greatest asset these biscuit-y fellows have is their devilishly fun lyrics. In the lyrics, they imagine how much better life would be if dinosaurs were still around, whilst acknowledging that if it did happen, they would probably wipe us out. It also contains one of the best, most bizarre lyric of the year, "You'll never see a tyrannosaur on the way to the shops, pretty much all of them have gone the way of Top of the Pops". 

The group have also released a rather brilliant music video to accompany the release, has been shot in stop-motion animation and features the band as cardboard cut-out creations, which is an absolute joy to watch:

"Dinosaurs" is available to download now.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Girl Band - France 98 E.P

If you like your rock music to be primal, scuzzy and full of energetic urgency, then Dublin based quartet Girl Band may be right up your metaphorical street. Across the six tracks that make up the "France 98 E.P", the recording is wonderfully lo-fi (but not to the extent of becoming a distraction), vocals are manic and shouty, whilst the guitars are distorted and firmly in the red.

The two track which stand out the most on the E.P. The first track on the record, "You're A Dog", channels the guitar riff of  "You Really Got Me" into the sound of early White Stripes. The second highlight is the title track, which clocks in at just 77 seconds, and sounds like Elastica with balls, both literally and proverbially.

"France 98 E.P" will be released as a limited edition 12" vinyl on February, and can be downloaded from their Bandcamp page.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Port Isla - Sinking Ship

Hailing from Norwich, quartet Port Isla are purveyors of the nu-folk sound made acceptable by Fleet Foxes and Mumford & Sons. Their latest single, "Sinking Ship", encapsulates their sound rather well, with anthemic choruses and soaring vocals. And the fact that the intro sounds an awful lot like "Black Horse & The Cherry Tree" by KT Tunstall isn't a bad thing either.

"Sinking Ship" is available as a free download from the band's website

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #8

It's time to have a another look at this island's 32 counties to have a look at which songs and artists are worth taking up a few of your earth minutes this month: 
Hurdles - Pictures

It's a testament to how closely-knit the Belfast music scene can be when a band who only played their first gig 2 weeks ago can be chosen to play at Radar, the weekly showcase of Northern Ireland's brightest and finest held in The Speakeasy Bar, Belfast. Yet that is the privileged position that Belfast born, Dungannon raised Hurdles find themselves in, following the release of their debut single, "Pictures." It's the sound of a group with heaps of potential who can only get better from here on in.

If you want to catch them live, they're playing in The Speakeasy, Belfast on November 22nd, along with Go Wolf and Cedric Has a Name. It is free entry.


Croupier - Creo Beast

I got to see Dublin group Croupier on Friday evening when they played in Auntie Annies in support of local lads Before Machines. I was incredibly impressed by their high energy live presence, in spite of the technical difficulties they seemed to face. "Creo Beast", taken from their self-titled debut album, was perhaps the highlight of the evening, with its manic energy and gloopy synths marking the band out as a shoutier, thinking man's version of Everything Everything.

Team Fresh - Boss Level

Belfast based rap/rock combo Team Fresh are the sort of group that it's comforting to have about locally, even if you're not really into rap/rock sung in the strongest Northern Irish accent this side of Duke Special. Their music and outlook could only have emerged from 'our wee province', and probably acts as a better indication of life here than many of our bigger musical exports. The Linkin Park aping sound of "Boss Level" might not be everyone's cup of tea, but they're no denying its dark charm.

Timberwolves - The Company You Keep

And finishing off the round-up is Timberwolves, the nom de plume of David McConnell. His first release, "The Company You Keep", is a wonderful, lo-fi folk record, with delicately plucked guitar and pathos-infused strings.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

My Fiction - Shanghai Surprise

Australian indie quartet My Fiction make the sort of Bloc Party-esque indie-rock that makes it feel as if 2005 didn't end. Their current focus track, "Shanghai Surprise", is going to feature on the soundtrack of an upcoming episode of the TV show Gossip Girl. Given that I am not really up-to-date on US yoof TV, I'm going to assume that the show is about the day-to-day life of Beth Ditto, and I'm sure that this spiky track will suit the mood very well.

"Shanghai Surprise" is taken from their album "FIREROMANCEFIRE", which is out now. 

Friday, 16 November 2012

Dead Social Club - Sunlight

I'd been meaning to write a post about this track for a few months now, but for reasons unknown, it seems to have fallen through the cracks. So, I guess there's no time like the present to revisit some old friends.

I first came across London based sextet Dead Social Club in October last year after being charmed by their Gary Numan inspired tune "This Painting Is Cursed". Nearly a year on from its release, the group have released their next single, "Sunlight". The track follows continues their love of 80s inspired synth-rock music, sounding like a mixture of Joy Division and The Cure at their most accessible. 

"Sunlight" is out now as a download and CD Single. 

Earls of Enkalon - Valhalla

If there's one thing that the local music scene has been crying out for recently, its for its own Kasabian-esque electronic rock act. Thankfully we now have Antrim based rockers Earls of Enkalon to fill that particular little niche. Their debut single, "Valhalla", is a great introduction to the band, with its low-slung basslines, Tom Meighan-y vocals and some interesting creative synth noodling. It's a confident debut for the Enkalon fellows, and one that should mark them out locally.

"Valhalla" is available to download now. 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Frida Sundemo - Indigo

A recent signing to EMI Records, Gothenberg based singer Frida Sundemo is seemingly being lined up to make a splash in the UK next year with her engaging Scandipop sound. The first song to be released to the masses, "Indigo", is a fantastic piece of pop music. A little bit Pet Shop Boys, a little bit Robyn, and a little bit her-from-Girls Aloud's solo album (you know, the one that wasn't on the X Factor and the one who isn't from Derry).

"Indigo" is due to be released in the new year.

MUST - The Devil Lives

After carrying out some extensive research (read: messed about a bit on their Facebook page), here is what I have learned about the group MUST -

1. They are a four piece group currently based in London.

2. They have only been around for a short space of time, having formed during the summer.

3. They share the same management company as The Wombats.

4. Their first gig in London was in support of Hooded Fang.

5. They have been getting quite a bit of love recently, being named one of the top bands of the year by Bella Union owner Simon Raymond, and been picked up on by, amongst others, The Fly and NME.

And most importantly:

6. Their most recent track, "The Devil Lives", which is available as a free download, sounds like a cross between Britpop and Bruce Springsteen, which is a rather nifty combination.

Give them a try. Make sure that my "research" has not been in vain. 

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Eatenbybears - Your Pet Is Dead

Following on from their well received summer single "Simple As Hell", Belfast based shifty-pop specialists Eatenbybears are gearing up to release their next single. "Your Pet Is Dead" is a great follow-up, featuring all the hallmarks of their sound, with the mixing of organic and electronic instruments and rhythmic structures which change throughout the song. It helps to mark them out as one of the most original, forward-thinking groups currently working in Belfast.

The band have also released the music video for the song, which is rather drag-tastic:

"Your Pet Is Dead" is available as a free download.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Caught Live: Belfast Music Week Showcase

Venue: The Limelight Complex

Date: 9th November 2012

This year's 2nd annual Belfast Music Week doesn't seem to have had the same buzz around it as last year. Perhaps because it didn't have a worldwide event, like the MTV Music Video Awards, to coincide with it as it did last year. Nevertheless, it's great to have a week set aside every year to shine the spotlight on some of the brightest prospects that 'our wee province' has to offer.

The central event to the week is the Belfast Music Week Showcase. The recently redeveloped Limelight Complex has opened all three of its venues to play host to twelve of Northern Ireland's most promising upcoming artists. The purpose of the night is to allow them to play to the 20 or so international music executives who have descended upon Belfast for the purposes of snapping them up. I couldn't recognise any of them during the evening, although that's largely because they all declined to wear a 10 gallon hat with "MUSIC PROFESSIONAL" emblazoned on it. I did see Radio Ulster DJ Stuart Baillie in attendance, but then again, as the old saying goes, "If you are at a gig in Belfast and Stuart Baillie isn't there, then you're not at a gig in Belfast."

Each of the artists has been given 20 minutes to perform, so each performance is rather frantic and crammed solely with each artist's most notable songs. Here are some brief thoughts on all the artists playing:

Katharine Phillipa - given that her style is strictly minimal, in that the space in between music is just as important as the music itself, an unappreciative audience can be quite detrimental to her performance (or as one person on Twitter put it, the crowd needs to STFU). Nonetheless, she puts in a decent performance. Notably, she has brought in a new minimal mash-up, combining "Ho Hey" by The Lumineers with "Some Nights" by fun..

Pretty Child Backfire - Some rather decent shifty-pop from the group.

David C Clements - My initial thoughts about seeing David C. Clements was that this is the sound of an incredibly polite apocalypse, as brought about by Bruce Springsteen (although on Twitter, I appear to have gotten his band mixed up with More Than Conquerors). A lot more engaging live than on record.

Tom McShane - Mr McShane is something of a throwback to the traditional songwriter, given that his live setup consists of a cellist, double bass player and trumpeter in addition to guitar/vocals. Didn't know much about him prior to seeing him, but any artist that writes songs with epic trumpet lines is a keeper in my book.

Wonder Villains - tonight, the band have established themselves as the best, most fun act on the local scene. A few new songs were played this evening, included "Blonde", a song that just screams 'future single'.

More Than Conquerors - rather decent.

VerseChorusVerse - I hadn't seen ex-ASIWYFA Tony Wright, aka VerseChorusVerse before this evening, but he sure does know how to make a great first impression, playing the first song of his set whilst balanced on the railing of Katy Daly's bar. He's one step above the average Belfast acoustic singer/songwriter, that's for sure.

Lafaro - I wasn't too keen on Lafaro's riff-heavy rock. Thankfully for them, everyone else in attendance disagree, with the band pulling in the biggest crowd of the night. "Tupenny Nudger" is pretty great though.

Runaway Go - Perhaps the best performance I've seen the band given to date. The short set is a great reminder that they've got some really great songs in their arsenal, like "Electric" and recent single "Jump Start".

Ryan Vail - all his equipment worked. There was a flute.

A Plastic Rose - win the award for best quip of the night. "This has been the fastest 20 minutes of my life. Although my girlfriend would disagree". It's a reliably strong set from them, with "Boy Racer" and their traditional closer "Kids Don't Behave Like This", being the highlights.

Rams' Pocket Radio - it's great to see Shauna Tohill back on bass for Rams' this evening. The performance is rather good.

It's great to have an evening sampling some of the best emerging artists coming out of this region. There were some flaws with the setup of the evening though. As none of the performances overlapped, there was a mad rush to get to the next venue whenever one artist finished. Also, with one artist playing at a time, the venue that they're playing in could become quite cramped, especially in the relatively small Katy Daly's.

Still, it was a great event, and I'm hoping that some of the music people in attendance like what they've heard and help to push our best and brightest into the stratosphere.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Fencing - 5 Year Itch

According to their official biography, the 4 members of Derby based Fencing came together following a mutual love of early 90s emo. I didn't even realise that emo music even existed back then, but based on the music of Fencing, it must have been a whole lot better than the faddish genre much beloved by angsty teens in the mid 00s. Their track "5 Year Itch", is a wonderful, live-geared track which incorporates elements of shifty-pop and post-punk in their emotive-rock styling.

"The Five Year Itch" is taken from the group's self-titled E.P, which is available on a 'pay what you like' basis.

Eels - Peach Blossom

After almost three years, Eels are back. Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) and his motley crew are gearing up to release their tenth studio album, "Wonderful, Glorious", on February 4th 2013. To whet fans' appetites until its release, the group have uploaded the first 'buzz' track from the album, "Peach Blossom", which is currently only available for those who pre-order the album on iTunes. (The first official single from the album , "New Alphabet", follows next month).

The song is a welcome return for the group, given as it seems to exist somewhere in the sound between two of their better albums, "Souljacker" and "Hombre Lobo", given its love for both the beautful and the harsh at the same time. It also seems to have taken inspiration from, of all things, "Scooby Snacks" by Fun Lovin' Criminals.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Avec Sans - The Answer

We're really getting into hype season now. Music bloggers and tipsters across the world are gearing up to announce the artists that they think will be heavy hitters over the next 12 months. As such, November is  a great time for artists who have already started to build a buzz to unleash new material, to ensure that their name is fresh in people's minds.

This brings us on very nicely to London based duo Avec Sans. Earlier on today, the group unleashed their latest track on the world, "The Answer", which is sure to get bloggers' tails wagging and ascend up the Hype Machine in near record time. It's released at the best possible time to catch our eye, but do they have what it takes to go supersonic in 2013? Lets have a look at the evidence:

First, the cons. At the moment, with the exception of remixes, the band currently only have three tracks up on their Soundcloud page, one of which is a Bon Iver cover. As such, as good as the songs might be, it might be too early to hype them, especially if their later songs fail to match up to the promise of their early songs.

Also, despite several offers, Avec Sans are yet to take their music to a concert setting, although they do have plans to do so early next year. A potential problem is that while their recorded songs might be impressive, they might be unable to successfully transfer it to the live stage. This has been the undoing of many bands who have received a lot of hype in the past, most notably MGMT.

But despite these possible niggles, there is one, big, massive pro that blows these out of the water - their music is good. Very good, in fact. Taking inspiration from Purity Ring & Sleigh Bells, their latest single, "The Answer", is a piece of finely crafted electro-pop with a slightly harsher edge to it. On the strengths of the music alone, Avec Sans should do well for themselves over the next 12 months. Then again, the hype game can be an incredibly fickle business.

"The Answer" is available now as a free download.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Songs for Walter - Tougher Than A Soldier's Boots

Songs For Walter is the pseudonym of Manchester based artist Laurie Hulme, whose trades in autumnal, home-made introspective folk. His latest single, "Tougher Than A Soldier's Boots", takes its inspiration from the Louis Theroux documentary which featured him living with a hateful American sect. The song itself seems to find itself placed somewhere between "Welcome Home" by Radical Face and a solo version of The Polyphonic Spree, and makes for a rather intriguing listen.

"Tougher Than a Soldier's Boots" is available as a free download from Red Deer Club.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Mazes - Bodies

Last year, Mazes made the blog's list of Top 10 songs of 2011 with "Most Days", a short, snappy burst of youthful punk energy. With their sophomore album due to be released early next year, the trio have made the first track from the record available as a free download. "Bodies" feels like the antithesis of "Most Days", given its long length (almost 7 minutes), and its relaxed tone. There's something of a Vampire Weekend feel to Jack Cooper's vocals on this song, which acts as an exercise in how to make a song both repetitive, yet somewhat engaging at the same time.

"Bodies" is taken from the group's 2nd album, "Ores & Minerals", which will be released on February 18th.

Photograph is © Owen Richards

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Silences - Ghosts


Hailing from Armagh and currently based in Leeds, Conchúr White records tender acoustic tunes under the pseudonym Silences. Of the tracks currently on his Soundcloud page, the song that most grabs my attention is the fragile "Ghosts". The song, with its piercing falsetto and stripped back production, calls to mind the early work of Damien Rice.

"Ghosts" is taken from his first solo E.P "Murder Your Darlings". Silences will be playing live with SOAK and Rachel Austin in McHugh's Bar on November 7th.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Big Sun - Time I Bought a Boat

Do you ever have that moment where you come across an artist that ticks all the correct boxes, to the extent that you think you're dreaming? It happened to me when I came across Oxford based band The Big Sun. The band is based around their singer, Berry, yet they boast members of some of the greatest Brit-rock bands of the 90s. Not only is former Candyskins bassist Mini a member, but they also include TWO former members of Ride - drummer Loz Colbert and keyboardist Nick Moorbath.

Of course, having a great musical pedigree means absolutely nothing if the music itself isn't good. Thankfully, this is not the case. Described as a failed attempt to emulate the sound of The Lemonheads, "Time I Bought A Boat" is a surprisingly pop-orientated affair, much like how Owl City would sound if it was a full band rather than one guy. The vocals from Berry are a particular highlight, calling to mind Kirsty MacColl or Allo' Darlin. It's a great song, and one that should sit nicely beside Wonder Villains as one of the better pop songs of the year.

"Time I Bought a Boat" is taken from "StickelBacker E.P", which will be released on November 16th.

The Metaphorical Boat Album Briefs - November 2012

November is such a wonderful month. I don't know why it gets such a bad rep. It's probably Wycliffe Jean's fault for that, I suppose. But anyway, here's a few albums that will add buoyancy to The Metaphorical Boat this month: 

Muse - The 2nd Law

(Helium 3/Warner)

So much has been said about Muse's sixth studio album already that it's very hard to talk about it without retreading pre-existing arguments, so I apologize in advance if you've heard this all before. "The 2nd Law" is Muse's most eclectic album to date. And somewhat counter-intuitively, it is also Muse's most consistent album to date, even more so than "Black Holes & Revelations" (which in hindsight sounds a bit dated). 

Whilst there are all the hallmarks of the 'classic' Muse sound, including lead single "Survival", and "Explorers", a song that sounds like it's on the verge of bursting into "Don't Stop Me Now" by Queen at any moment, it does explore new territory for the band. This includes Faith No More-esque funk metal ("Panic Station"), James Bond theme tunes ("Supremacy"), and even their fabled descent into dubstep-rock ("Madness", "Follow Me" & the two part closer "The 2nd Law"). It also features the first writing/singing credits for bassist Christopher Wolstenholme. "Save Me" is a passable attempt at a rock ballad, whilst "Liquid State" sounds like a rockier version of Pendulum, complete with Auto-tuned vocals. 

"The 2nd Law" will not be to the tastes of those who prefer their music subtle and understated, but for those who aren't afraid of the overblown, Muse's latest will be right up your street.

Released: September 2012

Highlights: Panic Station, Madness, Explorers.

Lucy Rose - Like I Used To


I absolutely adore Lucy Rose, and her debut album "Like I Used To", is a wonderful artifact of beauty, yet for some reason I always find it rather difficult to perfectly describe what her music sounds like. So I will try to describe it by way of analogy.

Listening to Lucy Rose is like having two comfort blankets being beamed directly into your ears. When she opens her mouth, it is as if the only person in the world she thinks is important is yourself, even if she's singing about something as pedestrian as going for a bike ride. There's a gentle fragility in her voice, which comes across in songs like "Lines" and "Middle of the Bed", which only serves to make her even more endearing.

Released: September 2012

Highlights: Lines, Bikes, Middle of the Bed.

Rebekah Delgado - Don't Sleep

(Four In The Morning)

If you're one of those people who like their pop music to be rather doom-laden, then the debut album by London songstress Rebekah Delgado might be just up your street. Her debut album, "Don't Sleep", was inspired by her chronic insomnia, and therefore its no surprise that the album seems to inhabit that strange realm between the awake and the asleep.

Songs such as "Little Boy Blue" and the title track make it clear why she has been dubbed "the female Nick Cave" by some critics, with her striking vocals and gothic production style dominating each track. "The Hunger That Never Sleeps", meanwhile, recalls The Velvet Underground at their most experimental.

 That's not to say that there aren't a few lighter moments on the record. The lead single from the album, "Ménage a Moi", which is a cheeky little ode about loving yourself, whilst "Sing Your Through The Storm" is a tender piano ballad, complete with a choir that could surely become in instant top 10 hit if Adele were to release it as her next single.

"Don't Sleep" is a confident debut album from an artist who is content to make music on her own, brooding terms.

Released: October 2012

Highlights: Little Boy Blue, Ménage a Moi, Sing You Through The Storm.

Space Wolves - Space Wolves

(UT Records)

And finishing off this round-up is a quirky little album from Buffalo band Space Wolves, which is available as a free download. Running at less that 20 minutes across its 13 tracks, its an incredibly brief album, albeit one that's full of wonderfully fun, lo-fi garage rock. The album combines Space Wolves' obsession with humanity's three great loves - love, food and parenthesizes. Think Guided By Voices with a pizza fetish and you're nearly there.

Released: October 2012

Highlights: Here's Pizza (Do You Love Me Too), Pizza Ice Cream (Is My Dream), I Saw You (With Your Boyfriend).

Window Seats - Juliette's Letter

Following the successful release of their last music video at the end of last year, Belfast based heavy rock trio Window Seats have released the video for their new single, "Juliette's Letter." Directed by the band themselves, the video sees the members of the band being delivered a package by a leather-clad cyclist, which leads to unfortunate consequences.

"Juliette's Letter" is taken from the band's "Frozen Bones" E.P, which is out now.