Sunday, 28 April 2013

Strangers - Something New

It's always the case that when an artist from an under appreciated genre breaks out into the mainstream unexpectedly, it triggers a feeding frenzy both among record labels and among music fans to uncover the next Band X. For example, the success of Bastille in 2013, with a massive selling album and an ubiquitous radio hit, has sparked the question as to who will follow in their footsteps. One group that might just step up to the mark are London trio Strangers.

Having released a few EPs in 2012, as well as enjoying support slots for Grimes and Nikki & The Dove, the group are gearing up to release their debut single, "Something New". The song does call to mind Bastille in several regards. Firstly, the vocals of David Maddox-Jones bears an uncanny likeness to that of Dan Smith. The song is also stylistically similar, as it has a sleek, contemporary pop feel to it, with some futuristic synth parts. And finally, like Bastille, there is not a single guitar in sight.

The song might not be exactly be "Something New" (pardon the pun), but it is definitely a song worth listening to. Of any of the acts that could benefit from an increased public appreciation of credible synth-pop, Strangers stand as good a chance as any of making the breakthrough.

"Something New" will be released on May 13th.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Seasfire - Oh...Lucifer

Bristol based quartet Seasfire have built up a loyal following over the past 12 months, and have become something of a darling for music blogs through their nomination for the Blog Sound of 2013. Following a low-key re-release of "Falling" earlier this year, the band have announced the release of "Oh...Lucifer"

The song continues the band's penchant for taking a contemporary rock structure and augmenting it with electronic beats and production. It is perhaps their most accessible track to date, with a clear verse/chorus structure and some trance inspired synths. Stylistically, it is a song which isn't a million miles away from the sound that Hurts have moved into recently, albeit one which is a lot rougher around the edges.

"Oh...Lucifer" is the sound of a band who are trying to win over new fans simultaneously attempting to please those people who have already fallen under their spell. Only time will tell if this pays off.

"Oh...Lucifer" will be released on 1st July.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The 1975 - The City

Well, knock me down with a feather. I knew that Manchester based quartet The 1975 would have a rather fine 2013 indeed, but if you'd have told me after playing in Belfast to just a handful of people that within three months they would have a UK Top 40 hit single with "Chocolate", a track which hasn't seemed to have left the airwaves since February, as well as selling over 150,000 copies of said single, I would have been very sceptical indeed. Now it looks like the band are well on their way to being the most successful new band of the year so far. The members of the group also seem to be becoming something of a pin-up favourite for their growing teenage fanbase, which isn't surprising given how photogenic the boys are.

Of course, this blog cares more about great songs than image, and The 1975 have announced the re-release of "The City", a song which originally surfaced on their debut E.P "Facedown" last year. The track is a much darker affair than "Chocolate", with impossibly deep drums (last seen on "Sex"), sinister keyboards, and lyrics about the dark underbelly of inner city life. It's a rather brave choice of follow-up single after their last radio-friendly affair, but so far it seems that people are really warming to it, as well as to the band itself. Let's hope the next time they visit Belfast, they'll be playing it to an audience of hundreds. Mandela Hall, anyone?

"The City" is the lead single from their E.P "IV", which is released on May 20th.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Rhodes - Always

In the past few days, quite a few people on our Twitter feed have been ranting and raving about folksy singer/songwriter Rhodes.  Tidbits of information about him are rather sparse at the moment, but after a brief sweep of the interweb, this is what I know:

1. He is from Hitchin in England, which is where the inventor of the jet engine, Frank Whittle, was born.

2. His real name is David.

3. According to his Facebook profile, he is a fan of SOAK. This is very good indeed.

4. He counts Mr Radio 1 himself, George "guitars are back" Ergatoudis as one of his admirers

5. He recently spent some time in Norway writing and recording music.

6. His music is rather good indeed.

So here's "Always" for you, a lovely acoustic track with sumptuous Bon Iver inspired harmonies.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Sion Russell Jones - So Long

"So Long" is a song so drenched in the American folk tradition that its somewhat hard to believe that the song's performer, Sion Russell Jones, is actually from Cardiff. The track combines elements of Elliott Smith, Bon Iver, Radical Face, and a little bit of Paul Simon to create a song with gorgeous harmonies, unconventional rhythms, and a chorus that veers firmly into uplifting territory.

"So Long" is taken from Sion Russell Jones' self-titled E.P, which will be released on June 10th.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Wytches - Beehive Queen

Guttural lo-fi garage rock is the order of the day for Brighton based trio The Wytches. Their new single, "Beehive Queen", is a darkly tinged track which sounds like it would be right at home at a zombie surf party, with shadowy guitar riffs and its vocals from Kristian Bell, who comes across like Jack White at his most twitchy.

"Beehive Queen" will be released as a 7' single on June 3rd.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

M O S C O W M E T R O - Spirit of a City/Cosmos

It's not often that the debut recordings from a brand new group appear to the world so fully formed that you'd think that they have been around for years, but this is exactly the case with the debut double A-side from M O S C O W  M E T R O. The band are based in Limerick, but contain members from both Ireland and San Francisco, giving their sound a real transatlantic feel.

The first track, "Spirit of a City", is a mid tempo anthemic rock number with a haunting undercurrent, very much in the mode of The Killers or The National. It is the sort of song that seems tailor made for multi-seated stadiums and for closing festival proceedings.

"Cosmos" on the other hand is a much stronger track, one which is very much indebted to post-punk. The verses of the song call to mind the material of Joy Division and "Seventeen Seconds" era songs from The Cure, before the chorus  enters into anthemic mode (the group's favourite type of mode), with a sense of angst that would not sound out of place on a Placebo track.

It is not often that this blog gives in to hyperbole, but in this case an exception will be made. Based on these two tracks, M O S C O W  M E T R O are your new favourite band. Both "Spirit of a City" and "Cosmos" represent a near-perfect debut for the Limerick guys. These are songs that deserve to be played on radios nationwide, ascend the Hype Machine, and be downloaded by thousands.

Both tracks by M O S C O W  M E T R O are available to download for free.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #14

According to the 20th century poet T.S Eliot, "April is the cruelest month." I'm guessing that he didn't realise that nearly 100 years later, April 2013 would be choc-a-block with some brilliant new music. Poets just don't have any foresight.

So here's a few tracks from Northern Ireland that have come up on The Metaphorical Boat's radar this month:
VerseChorusVerse - Nothing Is Easy

Former And So I Watch You From Afar member Tony Wright has done his best to distance himself from his former band on the recordings released as VerseChorusVerse. In comparison to his ex-group's loud, noisy, mostly instrumental proceedings, "Nothing Is Easy" is  surprisingly tranquil. It's am acoustic track with straightforward lyrics that shows that nice and simple can be just as effective as aggressive and complicated. The music video for the track, which has been described as crazy and hilarious, is well worth checking out.

Gerard i2 - Mash em'

Although it is always fantastic to hear local artists receiving airplay on national radio, with some artists/songs, you wonder if people listening on the mainland will 'get' them. Over the past few days, "Mash em" by Strabane based rapper Gerard i2 has starting to pick up some airtime on a few shows on BBC Radio 1. I had my doubts that his music could transfer well out of the boundaries of 'our wee province' for two reasons:

1. Northern Ireland has never really been considered a hotbed of rap activity.
2. Gerard i2's accent is so strong, that even people who live here may have difficulty understanding what he's saying.

Thankfully, it seems that the people have responded well to the track, which takes an old school, DJ Shadow-esque production and adds rhymes about things as diverse as seizures, Lidl & 16 bit games console cartridges. Could Gerard i2 be Northern Ireland's first breakout rap star? Anything is possible, I suppose.

Desert Hearts - Silver Threads

Local stalwarts Desert Hearts are gearing up to release their third studio album "Enturbulation=No Challenge" on May 27th. To promote its release, they've brought out "Silver Threads", a track that's a little bit The Killers, a little bit The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and one which encapsulates the grandiose rock that they are well known for.

The Shout - On and On

There's been a healthy stream of pop-punk coming from Northern Ireland recently. There's Sethway, Kept Under Glass, and now Belfast based group The Shout are the latest gang making the music so beloved by the angsty teens of the world. Their latest single, "On and On", is a decent piece of You Me At Six style rock.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Maps - I Heard Them Say

It's wonderful to see that James Chapman, aka Maps, is gearing up to release new material in the summer. I have always had a great fondness for Maps, especially the 2007 debut album "We Can Create", not only because it was a stunning record, but because it was an important milestone in the development of my musical tastes. Up until that point, my musical tastes were firmly dictated by whatever songs were in the chart, or had been in the chart. However, hearing the stunning "It Will Find You" acted as a wake-up call, showing that there is indeed a world of music beyond the top 40. And giving how depressing the charts looked from 2008 onward, I escaped from its confines at the right time.

Now six years on, the third Maps album is being lined up for release. Excitingly, this record has been mixed by Ken Thomas, who was responsible for mixing "We Can Create", and the first single to be taken from the album, "I Heard Them Say", seems to suggest that this album could be just as good as his debut. The track features  the trademarks that made Maps such a delicious proposition in the first place - dreamy vocals and expansive electronic soundscapes. Also, after being largely ignored on Maps' second album "Turning The Mind", the song features the return of guitars to the band's sound.

"I Heard Them Say" is a song that should make people stand up and take notice of Maps again, and so far, that seems to be the case - a limited edition 12' copy of the song sold out within hours of it being released into the world.

The third album by Maps, "Vicissitude", will be released on 8th July.

Sans Chateaux - Holy Venus

You've really got to admire a band in which the vocals really feel like an instrument in its own right, which is exactly the case in "Holy Venus" by Cork based trio San Chateaux. The song combines elements of Sigur Rós and The Delays with a smattering of Irish folk to create a song that is simultaneously ethereal and down-to-earth at the same time. And the vocals - well it might be difficult to make out what is being sung, but given its fragile beauty, they could be singing about buying milk from the corner shop and it would still be engaging.

"Holy Venus" will feature on San Chateux's self-titled E.P, which is released on May 27th.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Cosines - Hey Sailor Boy!

Pirate inspired indie-pop is the order of the day for London based Cosines. A self-described 'mathematical pop' group, their latest single, "Hey Sailor Boy!", is a piano led upbeat pop ballad told from the perspective of a female pirate. It's a charming song with echoes of Allo Darlin & Camera Obscura, and proof that you can indeed make a non-sexual song about booty calls.

"Hey Sailor Boy!" will be released as a 7" single on May 20th.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Team RKT - Living The Dream E.P

I absolutely, positively love to hear local music that is imbued with glorious, youthful, pop orientated fun. This is why it's great to hear new material from Team RKT, a duo hailing from Portstewart. Having touched upon them last month when they were longlisted for Chordblossom's Kickstart competition (and have subsequently made the shortlist for), the band have now released their first official E.P, "Living The Dream", which is a jolly fun ride indeed.

The band describe their sound as "chiptune rock", generating music through Gameboys and adding guitars. Although truth be told, only two of the tracks on the E.P really match up to this description - "LTD", with its heavy drums and 'Sonic rings' percussion, and "Homerun", a track which sounds like a version of 3OH!3 that you don't want to repeatedly punch in the face*.

Perhaps the best descriptor of the E.P is the simplest one - this is a pop record, through and through. The opening track, "Break Out", is a gorgeous slice of escapist pop in the Owl City mould, albeit one which does veer towards lo-fi electronics (listen to the perfectly pitched synth-solo from 1:43). The final track, "Above The Clouds" is the most guitar orientated song, yet still stays firmly in the pop landscape, coming off like a fizzier Darwin Deez.

"Living The Dream" probably won't be seen as the best E.P released in Northern Ireland this year, but it surely is going to be the most fun. Team RKT feel like a breath of fresh air on the local scene. Finally, we have a male-fronted equivalent to The Wonder Villains.

The "Living The Dream" E.P is available to download for free.

*Disclaimer - The Metaphorical Boat does not endorse violence again any American electro duos, regardless of their artistic merit.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Dead Presidents - Can You Dig It? E.P

Of the artists playing at last year's Glasgowbury Festival, the one that really impressed me were Belfast based funk/soul brothers (and sister) The Dead Presidents. The band stood out from their local peers for their laid back style and funky jams, as well as through their distinctive frontman Matthew Wilson. After being on the boil for quite some time now, the band have just released their latest E.P, "Can You Dig It?"

The answer is yes, you can. The E.P is a great slice of laidback soul, one which eschews in-your-face hooks for a more groove based approach on tracks like "Dancing With the Devil" and "Fallin' In Love Again". Matthew's vocals are very similar to those of fellow city boy Van Morrison, something which is either a strength or a distraction depending on your viewpoint on such issues. It's a rather distinctive E.P, and one which will be very well received at their always enjoyable live shows.

"Can You Dig It?" is out now.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Vasco Da Gama - Brigadiers

If you are a big fan of indie-pop, but think that the genre is too twee and cutesy, then the latest song from Liverpool based quartet Vasco Da Gama might be right up your metaphorical street. "Brigadiers" has a pop feel to it, that's for sure, but there's a feeling of bitterness that underpins the song that seems out of place on a song like this, and  its structure seems more shifty-pop than indie-pop. It's no wonder that they're just as comfortable supporting Los Campesinos! as they are Adebisi Shank.

"Brigadiers" is available as a free download, and is taken from their E.P "Geography", which is released on April 22nd.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Enemies - Executive Cut

Kilcoole based shifty-pop quartet Enemies are gearing up to release their second album next month. To whet our appetite before its release, the band have released the first track from the album, "Executive Cut", which the band have made available as a free download.

"Executive Cut" features Cast of Cheers frontman Conor Adams on guest vocals, and marries the style of two of the best post-rock groups of the past few years with much aplomb - the first half of the track features offbeat rhythms not too dissimilar to some of Battles' later songs, before culminating in an almighty wall of noise that would make And So I Watch You From Afar very proud indeed.

"Executive Cut" is taken from the group's 2nd studio album "Embark, Embrace", which will be released on May 10th.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Bedroom - Basquiat

It was sad to see highly regarded Belfast band Eatenbybears calling it a day last month. Having released an E.P and two excellent singles over two years, it's a shame that they decided to dissolve when they did. Nevertheless, it's good to see the members of that group continuing with their musical exploits. Three of the members will be continuing under the name Affleck, whom I understand will be treading a similar musical pathway to EBB. As for guitarist/vocalist Olan Stephens, his new project, The Bedroom, aims to discover "what can be achieved within bedroom productions, both video and audio."

The result of this endeavor is something bizarre, otherworldly, and bordering on terrifying, if debut release "Basquiat" is anything to go by. The song is built around a saloon piano sample, which then morphs into a distorted IDM track that seems to have been salvaged from the deepest, darkest depths of Warp Records' back catalogue. The music video for the track keeps the oddness going, with Olan reciting the lyrics of the song which superimposed over a Jean-Michel Basquiat painting. It's a fairly interesting track, and is bound to be one of the most left-field electronic tracks to come out of Northern Ireland this year.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Vanilla Gloom - Lemons and Wine

If there's two things that music in Northern Ireland has been severely lacking in recent years, it's all female rock groups and proper old school grunge revivalists. Whether or not a dearth of these is a good or bad thing really depends on your musical preferences.

But if that sort of music does float your metaphorical boat, then you'll enjoy the debut single from Belfast trio Vanilla Gloom. Formed from the ashes of the similarly monikered Puerile Honey, who supported Wonder Villains a few times in the past, the group have a sound that marries distorted guitars and shouty vocals with an unabashedly pop structure. Their first track, the bass-driven "Lemons and Wine" continues the group's love of taking something sweet and giving it a bitter undercurrent, calling to mind tunes by The Breeders, L7, and some of the less electronic moments of Garbage.

"Lemons and Wine" is available to download now.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Misty Miller - Anything For You

London based Misty Miller has currently been tagged by some people as being the "female Jake Bugg". In some ways, the comparisons are apt - both artists are yet to leave their teens, Miller has supported Jake on a handful of dates, and both artists have taken the blueprint of indie-rock and given it an alt-country twang. "Anything For You" is due to feature on her 2nd E.P, and is cracking 2 1/2 minute slice of music that calls to mind Best Coast, Florence & The Machine's "Kiss With A Fist", and even a little bit of "Lightning Bolt" as well.

It's a great song, one which serves as a fine introduction to a musician who should be gaining a lot of traction over the next year.

Echo Raptors - Change My Way

There really aren't many groups from Northern Ireland who have been influenced by Britpop, which is not surprising given how few acts from here broke through during the mid 90s. Aside from Ash, who  are usually given a place in the Britpop canon, there's The Divine Comedy, whose music seemed much more grandiose than the confines of the label, and at a stretch Joyrider, who had their only hit with a punk-pop cover of "Rush Hour" in 1996.

One act from here who do appear to wear their Britpop influences on their sleeve are Belfast four piece Echo Raptors. Having released a couple of decent stand-alone tracks over the past few years, the band have released a new E.P this month. The lead track from it is "Change My Way", a song that would have gone down rather well had they played it live on TFI Friday. Reminiscent of Cast and The Verve, as well as channeling the influences of contemporary local group General Fiasco, it's an enjoyable little number.

The song is taken from the band's E.P "She's So Free", and is out now.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Mayors of Miyazaki - Human Resources

With Studio Ghibli season in full swing over on Film4 this Easter, it seems rather apt that London trio Mayors of Miyazaki have dropped their latest single around this time (I haven't been able to confirm whether they are named after the famed Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, but for argument's sake, I will assume that they are). "Human Resources" is a short, burst of shifty-punk that crams more musical ideas into eighty-two seconds than most bands manage to do in 282. If you like your rock music unconventional, unfiltered, and bordering on Deerhoof-esque madness, then you'll find something to like here.

The song will feature on the album "Holy Cop", which will be released on June 3rd.