Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Bedroom - The Big Up

Do you think that sleep is the enemy? Would you like to conquer that nocturnal demon for the foreseeable future? Well you're in luck, for Galway native Olan Stephens, aka The Bedroom has just released the music/video combination "The Big Up", which will probably keep you up for the next few days.

Following on from his debut single "Basquiat", "The Big Up" shares the former's hip-hop beats, monotone vocals and sinister samples, yet somewhat surprisingly adds some tropical guitar to create a real Frankenstein's monster of a tune. As for the music video, to call it unsettling would be an understatement. Somehow, they have managed to make ice-cream unnerving, which I imagine is what the video was aiming for.

The Bedroom is a very weird project indeed. It will most definitely be most people's cup of tea, it might be too left field, freaky, or niche for some people's tastes, but I think it wouldn't be hyperbole to say that there really isn't anyone in the music world doing what it is doing. Whether or not that's a good thing remains to be seen.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Wonder Villains - 33

With every post that this blog makes about Derry band Wonder Villains (and we've sure made a lot of them since 2011), there's always the worry that we'll run out of superlatives, or exciting Wonder Villains related events to mention. Thankfully, the band sure do like to make things easy for us all. Since the release of their last single, "Blonde", the group has enjoyed quite a lot of airplay on Radio 1, they played a storming set that the final Glasgowbury Festival, and recently held a semi-exclusive 'rock party' at the Sunflower Bar, playing more or less every single one of their songs they had written to date.

And to top things off, the band are now lining up to release their next single. Fans of Wonder Villains will already be familiar with "33" - it was originally released as the b-side of their first official single "Zola", and it is the song that the band normally kick off their set with. The song has since been re-recorded for inclusion on their upcoming debut album "Rocky" (which I have been told on good authority is fully recorded, release date to be confirmed), and is a corkingly fantastic pop song, complete with all the band's trademarks - stonkingly big pop hooks, a slight punk-y style, pop-culture infused lyrics (this time referencing both Jorge Garcia and one of the band's key influences, Weezer), and most crucially, a smile inducing sense of fun that no band could possible match. Not even Katrina & The Waves, and they flipping walked on sunshine.

It's good to see that like their last single, "33" has picked up a bit of support on Radio 1 and a few other stations. Wonder Villains are a band that need to be heard. With so much bad things in the world, it's great to have a group who can make everything sound 100% better.

"33" will be released on September 9th.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

CAPE! - Disappear

A couple of months ago, we heard the song "Getaway" by Bristol artist Joshua Vincent, who was recording under the name Chapter House. The song was an impressive nugaze inspired track which sounded incredibly professional for a homemade demo, and we fell in love with the project. We did note however that given the similarity to an early 90s shoegaze group, the name might change in the future.

And we were right. Whilst Joshua is still making brilliant music, he has now recruited a 5-piece live band, and changed the project's name to CAPE!. The first song to be released post-moniker change is "Disappear", a song that continues the band's love affair with all things 80s sounding. With its heavily synthesized production, and slightly gloomy outlook, it calls to mind The Cure during "Disintegration", with a little bit of Simple Minds and The Horrors thrown in for good measure. It's another impressive, epic sounding track from Joshua & co, and although it's still relatively early days for the project, with such great tracks already under their belt, CAPE! will almost certainly be a force to be reckoned with within a year.

CAPE! will be playing their first gig in Bristol on August 24th, supporting Ducktails.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Southern - World Don't Shine

It's been over a year since this blog last heard from Belfast siblings Thom & Lucy, who record under their surname, Southern. Since then, things have gone rather swimmingly for them, with the now Liverpool based duo recently signing to Marathon Artists, who release material for Jagwar Ma among others.

Their latest single to be released is "World Don't Shine", which sees the siblings' vocals intertwining over a distinctively infectious blues guitar riff. Southern have been making some great tunes over the past few years, and with some serious muscle now behind them, they are in good stead to take on the wider world come 2014.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Beautiful Boy - Home

"Home" is the debut release from Beautiful Boy, a Brighton based quintet who members have been involved in several different groups over the past few years (two of them have played in The Ordinary Boys). It's a strong introductory track to the band, one which is very much in the upbeat folk mold of Mumford & Sons and the like. Starting with just vocals and strummed guitar, the song slowly builds up in a crescendo into a soaring climax over the space of three minutes.

"Home" is an incredibly strong opening salvo for Beautiful Boy, and given that the indie-folk sound is still relatively in vogue, the group should hopefully gain a few new admirers over the coming months.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Two Door Cinema Club - Changing of the Seasons

It's time to right a wrong. Not a major world altering wrong I should note, but a wrong nonetheless.

In the two years since starting this blog, The Metaphorical Boat has yet to dedicate a post to the biggest band to break out from our home turf, Northern Ireland, in the past few years, Two Door Cinema Club. This is a glaring oversight, because in a roundabout way, they were somewhat responsible for me starting this blog in the first place.

In the summer 2008, I was taking part in a week long event management program at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast. During the week, I was given tickets to see Los Campesinos!. They were playing there as part of a festival at the venue, and because of this, three local groups provided support for them. Before that gig, my exposure to local music was somewhere between threadbare and non-existent.  Afterwards, it was as if the scales had been lifted from my eyes, and a whole new world had opened up. One of those groups that helped to open my eyes to this world were Two Door Cinema Club, back when they were still using an Apple Mac for beats rather than a live drummer. I was so taken by the band (as well as the other two supporting acts, Cat Malojian & Kowalski), that I started a music blog there and then, and endeavored to spread the word about music in NI to the masses. That blog only lasted two posts, but my enthusiasm for local music as a result of that gig carried on into university, where I got involved in Queen's Radio, and eventually led to this blog starting in 2011. So thanks a lot, Two Door Cinema Club, you inspired one of the best things I have ever been involved in, and apologies for taking so long to give you a proper mention on the blog.

Had you told me back in 2008 that the group whom I saw perform a song called "Pain Au Chocolate or Is It An Onion" would be worldwide superstars within a few short years, I would have laughed in your face. However, in 2013 the band have sold millions of records, had a top 20 album in the USA, and will be playing the O2 Arena in London come December time.

Despite all their success, and despite the wealth of material at their disposal, the trio, rather surprisingly, have never had a single top 40 hit to their name. All this could change however with the release of their new single, "Changing of the Seasons". Produced by French wunderkind Madeon, the song is by far the danciest song the group have released to date. Some of their trademarks remain intact, like the searing guitar riffs, but on this track the synths take on a more prominent role, and as a result the song is the most radio-friendly song the group has produced to date. I would not be surprised if this song gave the band their long awaited first top 40 hit, and if both Radio 1 & Capital Radio decide to playlist the song before its release, TDCC could have a monster smash on their hands.

"Changing Of The Seasons" will be released as a three song E.P on September 30th.

Friday, 16 August 2013

My New Favourite Tribe - Wake Up

Remember a few years ago when the media tried to make wonky pop a thing? In a attempt to add credibility to pop music, and get coverage in the 'cool' press, the term was coined to make it sound a little bit edgier. Of course, many of the artists lumped in that category were in fact as pure pop as a Pop Rocks explosion in a Diet Coke factory, with Wikipedia helpfully informing us that its practitioners include Mika, Alphabeat, The Ting Tings, and for some God-forsaken reason, Lady Gaga.    

But even if the generic label appears to have been misplaced in the past, there are still artists in the present for whom the tag would be appropriate. Take Brighton based trio My New Favourite Tribe. Their debut single "Victory Parade" got critics' tongues wagging at the tail end of last year, and are now preparing to release their follow-up, "Wake Up". It is a song with with two wonderfully strong pop hooks, an off-kilter synth and a lovely clean guitar riff, and the song bounces along like a perfect dream.

Wonky pop is a generic label that carries a lot of baggage, yet it seems like an appropriate one for My New Favourite Tribe. It's a song that feels like it should be a hit, yet doesn't seem to conform to typical pop tropes.

"Wake Up" is released on August 25th.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Jacques Caramac & The Sweet Generation - Snowballs/Take It Where You Find It

As any regular reader of this blog might be aware of, the only thing I enjoy just as much as music is the culinary delights of Battenberg and Caramac Bars (amongst other foodstuffs, hence why there's no photos of me anywhere on this blog). That is exactly why I was absolutely delighted to hear about the new double-A side single from an indie-pop band with members from Scotland, France and Bolivia. Not only are they named Jacques Caramac & The Sweet Generation, they also claim that their new single is the first rock song ever written about Battenberg. If ever there was a perfect band/song combination for this blog, it's this one.

If their double A side single proves anything, it's that Jacques Caramac & The Sweet Generation are a band with their tongue firmly in cheek. "Snowballs" is a jangly slice of indie-pop in the mold of The Byrds, yet its chorus has a double entendre so big that it would make the cast of the Carry On films wince. "Take It Where You Find It" is a punky tribute to the aforementioned delicious marzipan covered sponge cake. If you like your guitar music eccentric and a little bit bizarre, then you could do no worse than Jacques et al.

"Snowballs/Take It Where You Find It" is out now as a limited 7' snowball coloured vinyl.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

New Ancestors - If You Let Me

There are many reasons why a band may choose to reinvent themselves with a new name. It could be that the band has changed direction musically and chooses a new moniker to distinguish themselves from what they did before. It could come about due to a personnel change in the band, especially if one of the ex-members happens to own the rights to the name (or even someone not involved with the band, c.f The London Suede fiasco). Or perhaps the band feel that they have gone as far as they can go with their current name, and feel a change will help them to bring themselves to the next level, especially if there's a stigma attached to it.

Recent history has seen bands reach dizzy heights following something as simple as a name change. After being dropped by their labelParva changed their name to Kaiser Chiefs and changed to a poppier style, becoming one of the biggest selling bands of the mid 00s in the process. Despite having an Irish #1 single behind them, 21 Demands changed their name to Kodaline in order to distance themselves from their previous material, and as a result they have a platinum selling album to their name in 2013. And would Two Door Cinema Club have enjoyed the same amount of international success if they were still known as Life Without Rory?

All this is a preamble to the introduction of the debut single by Belfast duo New Ancestors. Despite being less than a week old, they are a band that many people locally might already be familiar with, having been known for the past 4 or so years as The 1930s. So far, the response to their new name has been overwhelmingly positive, as has the response to their debut single under their new moniker, "If You Let Me." The song isn't a million miles away from the folky sound of their former incarnation, but it does show a band which has evolved its sound into something more anthemic that their past material, suggesting that they might have taken something more than just a name change out of Kodaline's book.

Whilst I am unaware of the reasons for their name change, I wish Northern Ireland's newest band, New Ancestors, the best of luck with their new venture. If they can build upon the great work they've started with "If You Let Me", then they may be worth keeping a closer eye on.

Ásgeir - King & Cross

21-year-old Ásgeir sure is popular in his native Iceland. According to his most recent press release, his debut album "Dyrd í dauðathogn" is owned by nearly 10% of the population of his home country. To put that into context, the UK's biggest selling album of all time, "Greatest Hits" by Queen, is owned by approximately 9.3% of the population.

The album is due to be released on these shores in the autumn in an Anglicized form as "In the Silence", with the English lyrics translated by John Grant. His debut song from this release is "King and Cross", an electro-acoustic track that seems to have taken hints both from Grant and his fellow countrymen Sigúr Rós. With a great sound that is both incredibly familiar and very much his own, Ásgeir has just as much chance of bewitching the rest of the world as he has in his own country.

"King & Cross" is out now.

Monday, 12 August 2013

China Rats - Deadbeat

Leeds group China Rats have been building their profile rather nicely since the last time we heard from them. As well as coming into their own as a live band, complete with sets at the Reading/Leeds Festival, they've also had a song featured in popular Channel 4 TV show The Returned. With a new E.P forthcoming next month, they've released the lead track to be taken from it. "Deadbeat" is a decent slice of Vaccines/Oasis-ish indie-rock, a song which should placate their current fanbase, and hopefully win them a few new fans as well.

"Deadbeat" is taken from the E.P "Don't Play With Fire", which will be released on September 30th.

Friday, 9 August 2013

The Jepettos ft Alana Henderson & Scott Jamison - Water

Let's be honest. Who doesn't enjoy a lovely collaboration between three wonderful emerging artists from Northern Ireland? (A. Bores. Bores do not).

"Water" is a collaboration between Derry based lullaby-folk group The Jepettos, Alana Henderson, whose cello-pop sound really impressed at Glasgowbury, and Scott Jamison, who is better known as a member of Belfast disco-rockers Go Wolf. It's quite a nice collaboration, one which brings out different sides to each of the artists involved. The cello adds a certain amount of grit that was absent on The Jepetto's material to date, the harmony vocals of Matt & Ruth during Alana Henderson's verse adds a certain sweetness that hadn't been heard before in her material, whilst it's safe to say that no Go Wolf song before or after this will ever sound like "Water".

If this song marks a permanent collaboration between the artists, "Water" is a great starting point for now. If it is just a one-off, then it will stand on its own as a fine example of artists from three different perspectives coming together to create something beautiful.

"Water" is available on a pay what you like basis.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Years & Years - Traps

When the self-proclaimed fans of your group include Judi Dench, then you just know the band in question are a modern, trendy bunch of upstarts, especially if such upstarts have just signed to the trendiest of all trendy record labels, Kitsuné (that record label that always sells its wares on the 2nd floor of Urban Outfitters).

And so it's time to introduce Years & Years, a London based quintet fronted by Olly Alexander, whom I am informed appeared in yoof dramedy Skins at some point. "Traps" is their second single, and is very much a song of two halves. The first half is the 'artsy' section, with wonky synths, subtle percussion and an intimate atmosphere. The second half however throws this out the window and instead concentrates on making an enjoyable pop song, complete with disco beats and a stonking bass line.

"Traps" will be released on September 9th.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Ancient Times - Nightschool/Hieroglyphics

A few months ago, the CBBC show Horrible Histories included a sketch about the life of Charles Dickens, which was performed as an incredibly loyal parody of The Smiths, right down to the gladiolas. Proof if it was ever needed that there is a market for mixing history and those indie-rock favourites.

Which leads rather nicely into Brighton group Ancient Times. Fronted by George Smale, combine an interest in historical mythology with jangly post-punk inspired music. Their latest single is the double A-side "Nightschool/Hieroglyphic". Both songs are rather decent indie-rock tunes, but the strangest thing about the release is just how uncannily like Morrissey the vocals sound. If you were to play these songs to the uninitiated, then they might mistake them from early Smiths outtakes.

"Nightschool/Hieroglyphic" will be released on vinyl on September 16th.

Monday, 5 August 2013

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #17

It would appear that time has stolen another month from us, bringing us into that desolate oven known more colloquially as August. To keep your mind on musical things, here is a round-up of a few little ditties which have floated The Metaphorical Boat this month:

Rachael Boyd - Go Backwards Now!

This blog first caught Belfast singer/producer Rachael Boyd a few months ago when she supported Croupier and Before Machines at Auntie Annies (RIP). She slipped to the back of our mind for a few months until her name popped up on the most recent E.P by Joshua Burnside, and discovered that she has an E.P, "Too High", out on August 6th. Taken from that release is "Go Backwards Now!", a song which combines post-classical string arrangements with modern production techniques, and has seen Boyd compared with múm and Godspeed.


Malibu Shark Attack - Doing It Wrong

Malibu Shark Attack is the new project from Rocky O'Reilly, known for being an ex-member of Oppenheimer, local production extraordinaire, and manager of Wonder Villains. The project sees him producing the tracks and performing the instruments, while the vocals are performed by American rapper Tribe One. The latest single by the duo is "Doing It Wrong", an indie-rap song about holding on to your childhood dreams, which will be released in September.


Daniel James - A Lonely Man

It seems to be one of those unwritten rules that if an artist from Northern Ireland wants to make it big nationally/internationally, they need to move away from NI to the mainland to have the best shot of doing so. As such, Daniel James has used London as the potential springboard to riches and fame, and judging by his latest song, "A Lonely Man", he has made the right decision. 

The track is a rather sleekly produced one, taking influence from old gospel recordings to create a sound in the Mumford & Sons/Ben Howard vein. He's got quite a few influential people in his backroom staff, so don't be surprised if you see him being touted in 'Sound of 2014' lists come December time.


FutureScope - You Know Me

August just wouldn't be August without some Ibiza-tinged dance music, and what better place is there for local dance music that Lisburn, which is very rarely known as the Ibiza of the north. Four-piece FutureScope released "You Know Me" a few months ago, but in the sunny climate it feels a lot more appropriate.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Step Rockets - Kisser

Minneapolis based quartet Step Rockets appear to have lofty ambitions, expressing their desire to become the first band to perform on the moon. Given the strength of their new single, "Kisser", I imagine that they might have every hope in the world of achieving that.

For a song by a self-released band, the sound of "Kisser" is surprisingly accomplished. Step Rockets appear to have followed the example of other indie-rock artists of late like Imagine Dragons, taking ideas production-wise from electronic and pop and synthesizing them into their own sound. They've got deep drums, up-to-date synths, a massive stadium-sized chorus, and rather refreshingly, a big hulking guitar solo.

Keep an eye out for Step Rockets in the near future. With a sound that is current, accessible and ridiculously radio-friendly, they will be your favourite new band of 2014.

"Kisser" is available to download on a pay what you like basis.

Friday, 2 August 2013

TeamRKT - Rare Candy

Over the past month, everyone's favourite Portstewart based chiptune-rock duo with a Pokémon derived moniker, TeamRKT, have been releasing a brand new track weekly as part of their "Free Track Friday" project. The fifth such track, "Rare Candy" (which takes its name from an item from the Pokémon games which allows the creatures to advance in power quickly), has been released, and like previous TeamRKT songs that have come before it, it is a joyous little piece of video-game pop with a great big chorus.

Even more excitingly, the band have released a music video to coincide with the song's release. It's a fun home-made video which takes inspiration from old-school video games and that Blackberry ad that Tame Impala did the soundtrack for.

"Rare Candy" can be downloaded for free from TeamRKT's Bandcamp page.

Affleck - Affleck E.P

At the tail end of 2013, it appeared that Belfast band Eatenbybears were on the cusp of greatness. They were favourites on the local scene, being tipped for big things by many observers, including this humble blog.

And then they split up.

Back in April, former Ebb member Olan Stephens revealed his electronic project The Bedroom, complete with a bonkers music video to match it. And now this week, the other 3/4 of the band have come together to  release their debut E.P, which has been recorded under the name Affleck. The E.P sees the group descend further down the rabbit hole from their last single as Eatenbybears, "Your Pet is Dead", into even more uncompromising territory.

If it was necessary to describe the "Affleck" E.P in a sentence, it could probably be summed up as "Hot Chip recorded in a demented parallel dimension". The release sees the band moving away from guitar-focused tracks into dark electronic arrangements, largely abandoning obvious pop hooks in the process.

Having said that, there are some slightly poppy moments on the E.P, albeit ones of a twisted variety. "Cat King Lightning", which should be considered the focus track of the release, is track which combines a warped, dissonant keyboard hook with the violin lines of Aidan Kelly, a rather accessible chorus, and a rather unexpected jazzy piano breakdown. Similarly, "Lucete" (which the mighty oracle that is Google informs me is the name of a character in Bioshock: Infinite) has a chorus the size of the Eiffel Tower ("All this has happened before, and all all this will happen again"), yet the song itself has a rather odd structure which builds up to a climax where different vocal lines bounce off each other to create a discomforting effect.

For fans of Eatenbybears listening to Affleck for the first time, there might be a level of culture shock greeting their debut release. It is not a record that could be called instant, but one which benefits from repeated listens, with different little nuances to be discovered on each visit.

"Affleck E.P" is available to download on a pay what you want basis. For further reading, check out this interview with Affleck explaining the reasons for the dissolution of Eatenbybears.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Paul Shevlin - Peace of Mind E.P

Paul Shevlin is one of the more under-appreciated artists currently plying their trade in Northern Ireland. In the past few years he's released some great piano-pop songs, performed live sessions on Radio Ulster, and even found the time to win a Brit Award, an achievement which saw him and his band Hologram get a track featured on the CD for this year's award ceremony. Despite this success, it seems rather odd that Shevlin hasn't yet risen to the top of the tree locally just yet.

Perhaps all that could change with the release of "Peace of Mind". The E.P is a collection of largely home recorded songs that Paul Shevlin didn't think suited the anthemic rock style of his main project Hologram, choosing instead to release them under his given name. The songs on the record don't really fit into one succinct category, with lots of different sounds over the course of the release's 5 tracks. Opening song "God Forgive Me" is an acoustic-led folk track with a lovely pop chorus. "You Say You're Ready" mixes glitchy beats and electronics with xylophone samples and Shevlin's pained yet sincere vocal delivery.

"All I Will Ever Be" is a rather odd gem, mixing a bossa nova rhythm with a string-led chorus, whilst the sparseness of the title track "Peace of Mind" as little bit of James Blake to it. The closing track is a piano cover of Imogen Heap's "Hide & Seek", recorded at Abbey Road Studios. It's as stripped back as the original, albeit with an acoustic slant rather than an electronic one.

"Peace of Mind" is a decent collage of tunes from a rather under-appreciated Northern Irish artists. I sincerely hope that people start to wake up to the quality of Paul Shevlin's music, whether in Hologram or in his solo material.

"Peace of Mind" E.P is available to download now.