Friday, 28 June 2013

Kitten Pyramid - Uh Oh

Midlands based group Kitten Pyramid are experimental rockers with ties to The Leisure Society and director Paddy Constantine, with some of the members contributing to the soundtrack to the film Tyrannosaur. The are releasing their debut single "Uh Oh", a song that plays fast and loose with song structure and influences. For handy reference, here are some of the reference points that come across on the song, as well as the point that this becomes apparent:

0:00 - David Bowie
0:08 - Pulp
0:13 - Blur 
0:38 - Dodgy
0:54 - Green Day
1:16 - And So I Watch You From Afar
1:35 - Queen
2:21 - Aphrodite's Child

So a little something for everyone in this tune, provided you enjoy any of the aforementioned artists. 

"Uh Oh" is released on July 22nd.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bear Driver - No Time To Speak

Given that record sales have gone down, piracy is still around, and song streaming doesn't bring in enough money to even buy the band a Caramac between them, the importance of getting your music synchronized on TV, music and adverts is much more important than it ever as been.

London group Bear Driver released their self-titled debut album last year to relatively little fanfare. However, this year one of the songs featured on that album, "No Time To Speak", has been featured on the soundtrack to Stuck In Love, a film staring Greg Kinnear and Jennifer Connolly. And while many artists would use this is an opportunity to exploit the song for everything they can, the considerate fellows of Bear Driver have made the song available on a pay-what-you-like basis. The track is definitely worth checking out, it's a great piece of anthemic pop, one which isn't a million miles away from The 1975.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Bridie Jackson & The Arbour - Prolong

By now, everyone who is going to this year's Glastonbury Festival is either already on their way or is getting ready to make the journey there, hoping to catch The Rolling Stones, Arctic Monkeys, or any of the other big names scheduled this weekend.

One of the names further down the bill that has got a lot on tongues wagging is Bridie Jackson & The Arbour, a Newcastle based four-piece who beat out over 8,000 other artists to win a place at the festival. Some of our favourite bloggers have been raving about the group for many months, so it's only fair that we take the time to check them out. And what better time like the present, as by a remarkable coincidence, the group have announced the release of a new single, "Prolong", the week they will be playing some of the biggest gigs of their lives.

The song is a tender, gentle track which strips the folk sound back to just strings, classical guitar, and voice. And what a voice it is. Bridie Jackson has the voice of someone who has seen a lot in this world, whilst simultaneously sounding as if she has been transported from another. They say that some singers could sing the phone directory and make it sound interesting. Bridie Jackson could sing from the directory of phone directories, and still we would hang on to every single syllable as if it was the most beautiful thing in the world.

"Prolong" by Bridie Jack & The Arbour will be released on 29th July.

Monday, 24 June 2013

A Plastic Rose - Kids Don't Behave Like This

One of Northern Ireland's best loved local bands of the past few years, A Plastic Rose, have now upped sticks and moved permanently to the mainland, setting up home in Nottingham, the home of Jake Bugg, Robin Hood & Boots the Chemist. They haven't forgotten their roots though, as the music video for their first post-move single, "Kids Don't Behave Like This" wistfully reminds us.

The music video was shot a few years ago in Malone Avenue, Belfast, a single-shot video which features the band doing all the things your mother warned you not to do, like running in front of cars, knocking down bins and eating leaves, interspersed with the band performing in front of a crowd of friends and fans. A few bands from the local scene make appearances, like More Than Conquerors and The 1930s, whilst eagle-eyed Radio 1 enthusiasts might notice a certain Mr Phil Taggart in the background at several points.

Whilst it might seem odd that the band chose to use this video to promote their first UK wide release, it actually is a particularly inspired choice. "Kids Don't Behave Like This" is the band's strongest song and arguably their signature track, one with soaring guitar lines and a refrain which just implores you to sing along. The video captures the energy, the passion and the devotion that A Plastic Rose has inspired among the people of Belfast. And if just some of that magic can be re-bottled and released on the other side of the Irish Sea, then maybe the band can become the household names they deserve to be.

"Kids Don't Behave Like This" will be released on July 15th, and is taken from their debut album "Camera.Shutter.Life".

Lewis Fieldhouse - Don't Be A Stranger

A smorgasbord of influences has gone into the recording of "Don't Be A Stranger", the latest single from Yorkshire born, Liverpool based singer/songwriter Lewis Fieldhouse. The song sparks comparisons to Vampire Weekend, Paul Simon, Queen, The Beach Boys and "I've Got a Name" by Jim Croce, all wrapped up in a contemporary sunny-pop sheen. It's a song of real warmth, one which should act as an appropriate heat substitute for when the UK weather inevitably decides that July is the new November.

"Don't Be A Stranger" will be released as a free download on July 15th.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

The Pidgeys - Blue

Is there a growing trend among Northern Irish artists to take inspiration from Pokémon? One of the best EPs to come from the north this year has came from TeamRKT, who named themselves after the crime syndicate from the game/TV series. In addition, one of Wonder Villains' best loved songs, "Ferrari" contains lyrics about swapping siblings for a Charizard.

Now we have another group who've appear to have Pokémon related sympathies. Belfast trio The Pidgeys appear to have named themselves after one of the pigeon-derived creatures that you can obtain near the beginning of the game. And in what is possibly a more oblique reference to the franchise, the band's debut EP, "Blue", has quite possibly been named after the first Pokémon game released (alongside Red). The song itself is a bass led alternative-rock tune that calls to mind 90s groups like Sebadoh and Pearl Jam, and should place them nicely alongside fellow Northern Irish 90s revivalists Vanilla Gloom and Echo Raptors.

The "Blue" EP is available to download from the band's Soundcloud page for free.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

In An Instant - All Binds Fall Undone

Anyone know of any indie/dance trios hailing from Bangor who've gone on to major worldwide success in the past few years?


Oh well, maybe at some point we'll see that happen. Until then we will just have to sit back and enjoy "All Binds Fall Undone", from Bangor trio In An Instant. In what seems to be something of a trend for tracks this week on the blog, the song is listed as being in demo form, yet already sounds as if it's ready for radio domination. The track mixes mainstream dance production with a guitar aesthetic to make something that is both familiar yet wonderfully fresh at the same time, and would sound just as at home playing out at Creamfields as it would be on the Radio 1 playlist. Keep an eye on this track, for when it exits the demo stage and becomes fully realised, this song is going to slay everybody left, right and centre.

Lizabett Russo - Lose You Colour

I have spent the best of part of a week trying to find the right words to describe "Lose Your Colour", the new song from Aberdeen based singer/songwriter Lizabett Russo, but after typing and deleting words for what seems like forever, I'm just going to say that it's a fantastic folk-pop tune, and let you discover its beauty for yourself:

There, wasn't that just wonderful?

"Lose Your Colour" is taken from the E.P "The Traveller's Song", which is out now.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Chapter House - Getaway

Given the finite amount of words and letters that exist within the English language, it is likely that at some point, there will be several musical acts who end up recording under the same name, as the Blue lawsuit proved a few years back. When I heard that Chapterhouse, the "Pearl" hitmakers who were one of the leading names of shoegaze in the early 90s, had a new track out, my interest was piqued. However, I soon found out that this act was in fact Chapter House, a project from Bristol native Joshua Vincent which counts fellow Bristolians Seasfire as admirers.

But despite the confusion, this Chapter House is creating some fantastic songs, like their latest single "Getaway". Despite being self-described as a bedroom demo, the sound is very deep and ambitious. M83 would be its nearest music equivalent, as the track features smashing drums, electronic centred production and heavily distorted ethereal backing vocals. There's also a Simple Minds feel to it, especially in the lead vocals, which have a real 80s vibe to them.

If this version of "Getaway" really is just a bedroom demo, then it should have everybody salivating at what the fully realised version of this project will sound like. It's impressive, ambitious, and sounds very much of its time. He might not be recording under the Chapter House moniker for much longer, but do keep an eye out for the name Joshua Vincent. We'll probably be seeing a lot more from him over the next few months.

"Getaway" is available as a free download.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Amber - Noah

It's nice to see that Nottingham has been a place of new music excellence in recent months. This blog recently featured the rather decent Kagoule, and fans of music from Northern Ireland will be aware that local  boys A Plastic Rose recently relocated there as a base of their national domination. But one of the bands from the city that have started to really catch people's attention are the quintet Amber. Their cover of "Hide & Seek" got people talking at the end of last year, but now they're lining up their debut E.P, and the lead single from that, "Noah", is a joy to behold.

On first listen, it might be apt to compare their sound to that of Mumford & Sons, given their similar rhythms and lyrical nods to Biblical characters. However, what differentiates Amber, aside from the notable lack of banjo twiddling, is a much heavier rock sound, with the band not afraid to press the distortion button on their amplifiers. Plus, I very much doubt Mumford would quote The Shawshank Redemption. It's a strong introductory track for Amber, one which should see them win fans, especially now that another band with a similar sound, Kodaline, look set to go global.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Jason Clarke - Loving You

Given that Belfast based singer Jason Clarke has been building up a rather decent following locally over the past year, it seems shameful that this blog hasn't given him a single mention to date. So, in the words of Uncle Argyle from Braveheart, the greatest cinematic character ever, "I guess that's something we'll have to remedy". And now is as good a time as any, given the release of his latest single, "Loving You".

First, the background. Jason has been described in many quarter's as the Northern Ireland's musical heartthrob. I'm not the best at judging these things, so I'll have to take it at face value. To date, he's performed with Paolo Nutini and Brian Kennedy, and has co-written songs with Iain Archer, who's best known for co-writing "Run" by Snow Patrol and half of Jake Bugg's debut album.

So what does Jason Clarke sound like? On the basis of "Loving You", the answer is, "like he belongs on Radio 2". The song is a big pop-rock ballad which has clearly been produced for MOR radio play in mind. It's a song reminiscent of 2004, when a similar style of soulful balladry from the likes of Kristian Leontiou took over the airwaves and music video channels, so if musical genres really do go in 10 year cycles of popularity, Mr Clarke might be very well placed to capitalise on changing tastes.

"Loving You" is available to download now.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Hentai Babies - One Potato Two

A quick Japanese lesson before we get to the music - the word hentai is usually translated into English as 'perversion', although in the English speaking world, it is used as a catch-all term for any anime or manga which features overtly sexual themes. There is a belief among certain people that all hentai involves a copious amount of tentacles committing gratuitously lewd acts, although this is very much a misconception, possibly arising from the release of Legend of the Overfiend, one of the first hentai anime series to be released in the Western market.

All this preamble serves as an introduction to Hentai Babies, a rock trio from the Isle of Wight. Their assorted internet presence shows a band who seem more than familiar with anime. However, unlike their namesakes, there's nothing perverse about these guys, except for their perversely fantastic song "One Potato Two" (does that work as an adjective in this regard? - The Captain).

"One Potato Two" is a song built around a mechanical guitar riff, one which echoes the sound of 90s American alternative rock groups like Rocket From The Crypt and Stroke 9. It's a very strong single from the group, one which should pique the interest of those who prefer their rock music to be fun, energetic, and as un-stony faced as possible.

"One Potato Two" is available as a free download. A music video for the song is also available, which contains clips from the anime series Nichijou, One Piece & Humanity Has Declined (none of which are hentai, thankfully).

Friday, 14 June 2013

Black Joe Lewis - Skulldiggin

Having recently signed to Vagrant Records (the home of Eels among others). Texan sextet Black Joe Lewis will be releasing their next album later this summer. In anticipation of this, the band have made the first track from that record available for download. "Skulldiggin" is a great slice of guttural, primal blues-rock, centred around an overdriven guitar riff, which wouldn't sound out of place in Jack White's record collection.

"Skulldiggin" is taken from the album "Electric Slave", which is released on August 27th.

Photo is © Keith Davis Young

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Jepettos - Chemicals (Not Square Remix)

The Jepettos are a folksy Derry based quintet centred around the husband and wife duo Mike & Ruth Aicken. Their sound is very organic and woodwind orientated, and their "Start a New People" E.P has been described by various sources as delicate, heartwarming and intimate.

So if anyone's in need of a high energy remix, it's them.

The band are going to be releasing their new single, "Chemicals", in a few weeks time. Before that, they have commissioned local dance merchants Not Squares to put their own spin on the track. This version has reduced the original down to childlike vocals of Ruth, to which Not Squares have added an up-to-date electro production, somewhat reminiscent of AlunaGeorge. Whilst the original might be best suited as a lullaby, this version is mainly for the late-night clubbers.

"Chemicals" is available as a free download.

Public Service Broadcasting - Theme From PSB

Public Service Broadcasting are now hit makers.

Yes, it's true. Last month the band released their debut album "Inform - Educate - Entertain" (to find out why buying a copy is as important as buying your morning coffee, click here). That album went on to smash into the UK album chart at #21. A wonderful achievement for any artist, it's even more impressive given that the album itself was self released. In another piece of chart geekery, it's worth pointing out that the album matched the #21 peak of Boards of Canada's "Music Has The Rights To Children". Both albums feature a song called "ROYGBIV".

I've also had the supreme pleasure of catching the band live since that release, and it really is an experience to behold. Whilst there are some groups that incorporate visuals into their performances, I don't think there's any group that have synthesized this to their performances as nostalgically, as effortlessly, and as one friend described it, hypnotically, as Public Service Broadcasting. And of course, the tunes are quite fantastic, so if the opportunity arises, you have no excuse not to go, especially as they're playing a smorgasbord of festivals over the summer, including Glastonbury. Be sure to check out their website to see when you can have the privilege of seeing them. 

And to top off all things PSB related, the band have now announced the release of the next song to be released from their hit album, and given that it's being promoted to coincide with their raft of festival appearances, where many of those in attendance might be curious newcomers, they really couldn't have chosen a better song than their own theme tune. "Theme From PSB" is a song that sees the duo cast the mirror back on themselves, examining those people who first pioneered the use of public information films. Musically, the song finds itself somewhere in the centre ground of the band's retro-futuristic sound. One the one hand, its one of the most electronic songs on the album. On the other, the song wouldn't have the same enjoyment if it wasn't for the nifty banjolele playing of J. Wilgooose Esq.

So after the release of this single, and their upcoming summer touring schedule, what's next for Public Service Broadcasting? Well, in September, the Mercury Music Prize shortlist will be announced. If I was a betting captain, I wouldn't be surprised to see "Inform - Educate - Entertain" on that list. After all, how many other groups, either in the UK, or elsewhere in the world are making music as original and entertaining as these gentlemen?

"Theme from PSB" will be released on August 12th as a limited edition pink vinyl.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Black Casino & The Ghost - I Like You Cause You're Free

When your group is called Black Casino & The Ghost, it's very unlikely that you're going to get happy-go-lucky songs about sunshine, daffodils, and eating too many sweeties. The London based 4-piece describe their music as being about "isolation, disorientation, lust, and how to fly a plane through turbulence without spilling your coffee." Having released a well-received E.P in late 2011, the group have released a new single to foreshadow the release of their debut album.

"I Like You Cause You're Free" is a piano-led song about the fallacy of modern communication, about living in a time when "all we are is what we choose to hide from each other". Despite the dark subject matter, the song is actually quite enjoyable, something that can be put down to the almost Beatles-esques production and chord progressions. The last minute of the song has a "Hey Jude" feel to it, albeit one with a jet black streak running through its DNA.

"I Like You Cause You're Free" is available to download for free, and is taken from their debut album "Some Dogs Think Their Name is No", which is due for release in September.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Lost Ghosts - Tunnels

With so much electronic music coming out of Glasgow at the moment, it's nice to hear a band adding something a little bit more organic to the mix. Lost Ghosts, a self-described post-pop group, have just released their debut single, "Tunnels".

The song is a strange beast indeed, as it's not immediately clear what it's supposed to be. It starts as an atmospheric synth-led track, yet this is instantly uprooted once the violin lines are added to the mix. It then appears to go into the raw style of The xx, something which it instantly betrays by going straight into classic rock guitar solos. The final two minutes sees the group attempting an anthemic yet restrained sound, like Frightening Rabbit channeling the spirit of Kings of Leon.

There are a lot of different ideas thrown into the melting pot on this first single by Lost Ghosts. It's an ambitious debut, and one which should make people take notice of them, but at the same time, hopefully their next few releases will be a bit more focused.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #16

Here is The Metaphorical Boat's round-up of tunes from Northern Ireland which have caught our attention this month. Tunes come from old friends, reconstituted friends, and a few new friends as well:

Not Squares - Simpler Vibe

"Simpler Vibe" by Not Squares was the first single released by Start Together Singles Club, a new label which releases limited edition tracks on a number of limited edition, novel formats (this song was first released as an egg shaker). After being hidden from the interwebs for the first few months of its release, the song has now been made available for streaming, for the benefit of the those who didn't get their shake on in time. "Simpler Vibe" sees the band move further away from the disco-punk that marked their debut release, with the song being closer to pure dance, and not a million miles away from Hot Chip. Anyone expecting a new "Asylum" will be disappointed, but it's a fantastic song nonetheless.


Go Swim - Halo

A relatively new band (only playing their first gig this week), Belfast 5-piece Go Swim contains members of former local groups Parachutes Over Paris and Nakatomi Towers. Their first release, "Halo", is a jaunty slice of Two Door Cinema Club-esque indie rock.


GRIM - Little Fizz

A bit of an acquired taste, this one. Derry man Laurence McDaid, who records under the name GRIM, mixes lo-fi electronic production with distorted jazz guitar on his most recent single release, "Little Fizz". If you're enjoy some of the less accessible work of Eels, then this might be up your street.


The Hangfires - Your Love

Northern Ireland isn't exactly short of classic rock revivalists at the moment. Million Dollar Reload have been entertaining hundreds of people over the past few years (including supporting The Darkness at the Ulster Hall), Screaming Eagles' debut album has received some positive reviews, whilst The Answer have enjoyed two top 40 albums, plus an illustrious supporting slot with AC/DC in America.

Hoping to join this illustrious set of bands are Antrim quintet The Hangfires. "Your Love" is an uncomplicated slice of rock and roll - 2 verses, several choruses, a guitar solo in the right place, and an extended guitar outro. And sometimes, that's all you really need.


Safe Ships - Invertebrates

The riff. The riff. All hail the glorious riff.

Belfast based group Safe Ships were recommended to this blog on Twitter after asking our followers about which local groups they were particularly excited about. "Invertebrates", taken from their most recent E.P "The Greatness Inside" is a powerful juggernaut of a rock tune, with heavy guitar riffs and vocals which go from a Johnny Rotten-esque snarl to hardcore overload over the space of 4 minutes. One cannot help but feel however that the song would have been greatly improved had the song had instead begun from the 1:45 mark, during the highly infectious "rich and famous" vocal hook.


Johnny Marvel - Brothers and Sisters

And finishing of this month's round-up is North Coast based alt-rock trio Johnny Marvel. Taken from their debut E.P "BlissfulHatefulBeautiful", "Brothers and Sisters" is a track which makes fine use of quiet/loud dynamics.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Trails and Ways - Como Te Vas

It's always lovely to hear new music from new musical friends, particularly from new musical friends who have blown up in a massive way since the last time you visited them. We last covered California based group Trails and Ways back in October last year, following the release of their melancholic "Border Crosser" single. That song has now been streaming over 100,000 on Soundcloud alone, and the band ended 2012 as one of the most blogged artists of year. (Incidentally, this blog's review of the single ended up being quoted on a French website magazine, translated into French, simultaneously being one of the best and most surreal moments of The Metaphorical Boat's existence).

The band have now released their latest single, and in keeping with the band's multilingual style, this song is sung entirely in Spanish. "Como Te Vas" (which means "How are you going?") is a delicious slice of dreamy pop which seems tailor made for lazy days floating on a lilo in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With a gorgeous guitar part which just screams the 1980s, plus a chanted hook reminiscent of Bastille's monster hit "Pompeii", Trails and Ways might have just struck a musical goldmine. Again.

"Como Te Vas" will be released on their upcoming E.P "Trilingual", which is out on June 11th.

Thumpers - Unkinder

Hailing from Warwickshire and based in London, duo Thumpers have been described as "colourful, exuberant pop...(which) celebrates their innate musical kinship and shared memories from their childhood." Having already released their debut single "Dancing's Done" earlier in the year, the group have now released their first E.P, one which features the production skills of a Mr David Kosten (Everything Everything, Bat for Lashes).

"Unkinder (A Tougher Love)" is the semi-title track of the E.P, and is a great representation of the group's modern pop sound. The song has a strong chorus, helpfully aided by the backing vocals of one of the members' sisters, and a rather welcome guitar solo, something which seems to have almost died out within the indie-pop landscape. And rather surprisingly for a band called Thumpers, the song is quite a breezy, laid back affair. There's much to enjoy with this group, and I very much hope the group can continue with their wonderful noise.

The "Unkinder" E.P is out now as a download and limited edition 12" vinyl.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The Night VI - Thinking Of You

First of all, if you correctly identify the number of members of the following band based solely on the above press picture, then well done. Your perspective vision is much stronger than mine is.

As their name might suggest,The Night VI are a musical sextet whose songs are seductively dark. Recently signed to Parlophone, the Anglo-French group have released the first song from their upcoming E.P. "Thinking of You" is a song which feels like a throwback to the chanteuse-led songs of yesteryear with a very modern musical setup, the same combination that made Lana Del Rey so beloved. Unlike Del Rey however, the song is a rather uplifting affair despite the lyrical darkness, something that can be chalked down to the band's knack for a great, pop chorus.

The Night VI's E.P "Still Thinking of You" will be released on August 12th.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Maker - Devotion

Maker initially formed in Brighton following the coming together of singer/songwriters Lana McDonagh and Danny McGurn. The duo were later augmented as a 4-piece and recorded a few well received demos, as well as a relatively popular music video recorded on an iPhone

The group are now lining up to release their first official single, which has been recorded by Scott McCormick (who's recorded with Calvin Harris & Bloc Party among others). "Devotion" is a captivating song which utilizes dynamics effectively. While the verses are restrained and almost hushed, the choruses border on the bombastic, with intense tribal drums and expansive production. It's as if someone has brought Daughter and Florence & The Machine together to collaborate, with each keeping their own  individual style separate. It's a style that is very much of the time, yet is still has a fresh feeling to it. 

It really is a good time to meet your Maker

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Big Sun - Pants!

Following on from the release of their "Sticklebacker" E.P, Oxford based group The Big Sun, fronted by teen singer Berry but featuring members of Ride Candyskins, have released their latest single. Entitled "Pants!", the song is a more subtle effort than the out and out pop of their debut release, with an almost jazzy feel to the recording. It's as if Kate Nash has relocated to Paris and has set up shop in a smoky, bossa nova café. Former Creation boss Alan McGee has allegedly taken an interest in signing the band, so only time will tell if the group make a splash.

"Pants!" is available to download for free.