Monday, 30 September 2013

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #18

Here's a few tracks from Northern Ireland which have caught our attention as of late. There should hopefully be something for everyone here, as long as the something that everyone craves is music that is mostly rock, and largely on the heavy side:

Linebacker Dirge - Suzimushi Tsuishiki: Enma Kourogi

The debut album by Linebacker Dirge, "Take Shelter", which was released in August, is notable for hitting two of this blog's keen interests. Firstly, the album contains musical contributions from members of some of the best Northern Irish groups of the past few years. Alongside key member Jason Gibson, members and ex-members of A Plastic Rose, A Northern Light, Eatenbybears & Kasper Rosa helped to bring the project's post-hardcore sound to the masses.

And the second of this blog's keen interests? Obscure Japanese anime references. One of the songs on the album, "Suzimushi Tsuishiki: Enma Kourogi" takes its name from the TV series Bleach, where it is the name of the bankai used by shinigami and former Soul Society squad leader Tosen Kaname. If that last sentence made absolutely no sense to you, don't worry, I very much doubt you're alone in that.


Pyramid Sequence - Sleeping Patterns Of Pharmacists

The recording project of Limavady fellow Niall Dalton, the self-titled debut E.P from Pyramid Sequence is largely made up of instrumental recordings that bridge the gap between soft ambient and harsh industrial. One of the exceptions to this is "Sleeping Pattern Of Pharmacists", which features guest vocals from Daveit Ferris. It is a great juggernaut of a song, with massive drums and an angry emo chorus that wouldn't sound out of place on Kerrang radio, and a song that might give you a little bit of extra sympathy for those fellows who work behind the medicinal counters in Boots.


Blue Whale - Was

Self-described experimental party band Blue Whale seem to be attempting to fill the space left by Not Squares when they abandoned their punkier side and decided to go full techno on us. They recently launched their self-titled E.P last week with a series of rooftop gigs around Belfast's city centre. Taken from that E.P is "Was", a funky danceable little number that should see them winning quite a few fans (and movers) when they play live.


The Last Generation - Chromosome

Fast rising Maghera heavy-rockers The Last Generation will be launching their "Torann" E.P in he Menagerie, Belfast on 7th October, with support from Astralnaut & Safe Ships. As well as featuring the brilliant "Battle Royale", the set also features "Chromosome", a riff-heavy 6 minute behemoth which should help them to cement their place as the new successors to Therapy?'s metal crown.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Ciaran Lavery - Other People Wrote These Songs E.P

You've got to love cover versions. Even though there is a great pressure on artists to write and perform their own songs (for both artistic and monetary reasons), a well made cover version can give your career a massive boost. Would Soft Cell have been one of the biggest selling acts of the 80s had they not covered a forgotten Northern Soul track? Would the Scissor Sisters still have been successful if they didn't get their first top 10 hit from a camp re-rendering of a Pink Floyd track? Even now, a good cover version can see an artist shoot to the top of the Hype Machine chart, which can result in a career boost, or a greater appreciation of their original material.

This brings me on to "Other People Wrote These", the new E.P from Aghagallon born Ciaran Lavery. Following close after the release of his album "Not Nearly Dark", the E.P sees Lavery covering some of his favourite tracks from the 70s and 80s in his own earnest style.

In some cases, these covers work very well in this style. One particular highlight is his cover of Talking Heads' "Psycho Killer". Lavery re-imagines the song as a plinky-plonky saloon bar ditty, and as such adds a much more sinister edge to the song than David Byrne et al. could ever achieve. The stripped down version Pat Benetar's "All Fired Up" works as well, allowing his vocals to come to the forefront. However, not all the covers hit the mark, like his version of "All Night Long," which comes across as downright silly. There are some lyrics that just cannot be sung in a sincere arrangement. "We're going to party, fiesta, forever, come on and sing along" are among those.

"Other People Wrote These Songs" is an interesting little diversion from Ciaran Lavery. Not every cover on the E.P might work, but there's enough on it that makes it worth checking out. And who knows, some people might enjoy his versions of these songs and decide to check out his original material as well.

"Other People Wrote These" is out now on a 'pay what you like' basis.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Cull - World Inside Your Head

What would British Sea Power sound like if they suddenly went down the shoegaze route and moved to Australia? One imagines that it might end up sounding something like "World Inside Your Head", the new single from Sydney based 4-piece Cull. The band recorded and engineered it at a makeshift studio situated under a loft bed, and in spite of the physical restrictions they have made an impressively expansive sound that could easily have been recorded in an aircraft hanger instead. "World Inside Your Head" stands out as a rather cinematic sounding track, one which wouldn't sound out of place soundtracking a David Attenborough documentary montage.

"World Inside Your Head" is taken from the band's E.P "Bà nội", which is due to be released at the end of October.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Best Friends - Nosebleeds

People say that everybody comes up with three million pound ideas every year. Because I am a benevolent captain, I will share one of mine with you.

Basically my idea is an app which is inspired by automated music recommendation services like However, unlike those services, which analyses what you have listened to on your MP3 player/iPod and gives you suggestions based on what you've already experienced, my concept will only give you one. Having analysed the most popular songs you have played, as well as looking at the genres/type of music which gets added throughout the year, the app will distill this into one song that represents you and your music taste most succinctly. It could be a song that you have played all the time, it could be a song that has laid dormant on your hard drive for years going criminally ignored, or it could be a song that you've never heard in your life before that moment. Whatever it may be, it will be your song, and yours alone, at least until a few months down the line when your music taste changes and you get a new 'you' song. If anyone would like to develop/licence the idea from me, my fee is 20 Battenberg cakes, to be deposited in a bank in the Cayman Islands (lest HMRC tries to take the marzipan).

So if this hypothetical app was to analyse this blog's musical preferences over the past year, what song would it consider to be 'my' song? That's something I could not know for sure, but I imagine it would sound something like "Nosebleeds", the new single from Sheffield group Best Friends. It's a song that contains more or less everything this blog loves - loud distorted guitars, a lovely wee guitar riff/lick running through the song, a youthful urgency in the lyrics, yet fashioned into a pop focused mold. Some people might call this music garage rock revival, others an attempt to replicate the sound that broke The Vaccines three years ago. As for myself, I can only call this song one thing -  my song.

"Nosebleeds" is out now as a 7" single, complete with a comic put together by the band.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Hudson Taylor - Care

Every now and again, I come across an artist that I mean to mention on the blog, but for some reason or another I don't get around to putting metaphorical pen to paper to write about them. Back in February, I caught Dublin duo Hudson Taylor supporting Jake Bugg in the Mandela Hall in Belfast. Having been informed beforehand that they sounded like "Mumford & Sons sans banjos" before seeing them, I was rather impressed by their stage presence and the reception to their set, getting the crowd singing along to their songs despite being relatively unknown. Although I promised myself to put something on the blog to spread the word about them, for various reasons, a post never materialized.

Not that they needed my support, of course. Since that gig, they have been signed to Polydor, supported The Rolling Stones* and built up an incredibly loyal following on YouTube. With a new E.P out next month, as well as a forthcoming UK headline tour, now is as good a time as ever to finally visit the group, and the track that should bring them to the next level.

From the sound of "Care" the lead track from their forthcoming E.P "Osea", it would seem that Hudson Taylor have picked up a few tips from supporting Monsieur Bugg, as it seems to have a similar vibe to his track "Broken". Whether or not it gets a string laden re-release produced by Rick Rubin a la that track remains to be seen, but regardless of that it's a great little track, complete with sumptuous harmonies, a laid back rhythm, and a chorus that just screams "playlist me, radio, please, please playlist me."

The "Osea" E.P will be released on October 13th.

 *Incidentally, that makes them the 3rd artist in as many weeks featured on The Metaphorical Boat to have supported that band. Jagger, Richards & co must have impeccable taste.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Star Horse - Devour E.P

It's nice to hear from a band who remind you that there's much more to Swedish music than just sleek indie-rock and aurally pleasing pop. Hailing from Stockholm, 4-piece group Star Horse ply their trade in that magnificent yet under appreciated genre known as shoegaze. Their third and most recent E.P, "Devour", is a great introduction to the band, and one which should become a firm favourite for fans of all things gaze.

All the important elements of the movement can be found across the E.Ps 4 tracks. Hushed vocals buried in the mix? Indeed. Lyrics which appear to have been chosen more for their rhythmic quality than for the meaning? Indeed. Guitars which have been distorted into dreamy soundscapes? Indeed, indeed, indeedio. In terms of a highlight of the E.P, you could do far worse than opening track "Hope To Feel A Hand", a track that harks back to the sound of My Bloody Valentine and Jesus & Mary Chain whilst incorporating electronic influences from some of the so-called "nu-gaze" bands of new. 

"Devour" is available to buy now, both as a download and a limited edition C.D

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Trwbador - Red Handkerchiefs

Unlike some people, I have no qualms about artists letting their music be used in advertisements. Although there is still a stigma around a band 'selling out' by allowing their songs to be used to flog whatever the kids are buying these days, the benefits far outweigh the negatives, especially if the band is not a household name. As well as the paycheck, which could be enough to keep some artists doing what they love for longer, the exposure that the song creates could lead to raised awareness of the band, more sales of their back catalogue, and bigger and better gig opportunities. The one occasion where I wouldn't be happy with an artist licencing their songs would be if they allowed it to be used to advertise products that go against what the band stand for. I wouldn't expect to see a band with impeccable environmental credentials letting their song be used in an ad for a 37-seater hatchback for example. And although the devilish side of me would love to see "Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others" used in an advert for KFC, I very much doubt that Morrissey would ever approve that license. 

Which leads me on to an act that I only would have discovered through the power of the synch. Whilst watching my latest dose of TV on a legitimate streaming site, I came across an irresistible little piece of music being used in an advert for an alcoholic beverage. Intrigued by the song, I carried out some extensive research (by which I mean I asked everyone on social networking sites if they knew what the song was), and discovered the song was "Red Handkerchiefs", by Trwbador, an electric/acoustic duo hailing from Wales. The song itself is a wonderfully refreshing one. Beginning with layered vocals from Angharad Van Rijswijk, the song builds up into a cacophony of pure loveliness, with acoustic guitars, glockenspiel and scratchy samples aplenty, before taking a slight diversion into sub-bass for the last minute. It is a well constructed song that really stands out as something different yet brilliant. 

The song is taken from their self-titled debut album, the Welsh Music Award nominated "Trwbador", which is out now.

Thanks to Eoin of Best Boy Grip for letting me know what song was used in the advert. To read someone else's opinion on having music used in adverts, check out the thoughts of J.Willgoose Esq. of Public Service Broadcasting.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Superfood - Bubbles

So it turns out that B-Town, a movement of indie-rock featuring bands like Swim Deep, Peace & Dumb hailing from Birmingham really is a thing. How do we know this? It has its own Wikipedia entry, the 21st century's rubber stamp of popular acceptance. Whilst I have to particular qualms about disparate bands being grouped together for media cohesiveness (after all, Britpop suffered from that to a particular extent), I must say I find B-Town to be rather ridiculous indeed. Why? Because whoever came up with the name, or more likely those journalists who popularized the term, didn't even do their basic research and realise that Birmingham is a CITY, not a town. It's probably not the most ground-shaking criticism of the sub-genre, but it's one that could have been so easily changed months ago.

Oh well, for the moment it seems like B-Town is going nowhere, with Superfood (a band named after a marketing term that has no real meaning whatsoever) being the latest Birmingham band to release a new track . The follow-up to their self-titled debut single, "Bubbles" shares some of the discordant fun that marked some of Blur's best album tracks, as well as borrowing some of the spiky energy of The Hives for good measure as well. Call them Britpop revivalists, call them leading lights of "B-Town", or call them whatever the heck you like. No matter what you call them, the fact remains that they're a rather enjoyable band indeed.

Superfood will be playing in Belfast (or as it is now henceforth known, "The Other B-Town") at Voodoo Bar on October 5th. Support comes from Wonder Villains.

Thumpers - Sound of Screams

Last month, the Performing Rights Society announced the first group of artists who would benefit from grants from their Music Momentum Fund. These are grants of between £5,000 and £15,000 in order to help artists to develop their careers. The first group of artists who have received such funding include Dutch Uncles, Kindness, Teleman (who are going to use their grant to pay for Bernard Butler to produce for them), and The Wytches. The next round of applications for funding closes on October 11th, so any artists looking to apply should go over to the website to take advantage of this (although at the moment, it is only open to artists based in England).

Another act to have benefited from this fund are London based duo Thumpers. Their last single "Unkinder" made the Introducing Playlist on Radio 1, and they are due to support Chvrches on their upcoming UK tour next month. To coincide with this, the group are re-releasing early song "Sound of Screams", which has received some additional production from Everything Everything/Bat for Lashes producer David Kosten. The song is a great alternative pop gem, coming off as a heady mix of Passion Pit, MGMT and The Big Pink.

"Sounds of Screams" will be released on October 21st.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

The Superman Revenge Squad Band - A Funny Thing You Said

The Superman Revenge Squad Band is the brainchild of Ben Parker, who was previously part of the Art Brut-approved Nosferatu D2. With the drummer from that band now on board, the group will be releasing their album "There is Nothing More Frightening Than the Passing on Time" next month. Taken from that album is "A Funny Thing You Said", an accordion-led ramshackle indie-rock song with witty stream-of-consciousness lyrics and a well positioned and a rather lovely saxophone solo.

"A Funny Thing You Said" is available as a free download.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Major Leagues - Endless Drain

Now here's a girl:boy gender ratio you don't see every day in bandkind. Brisbane based group Major Leagues consist of three girls and one guy, who hides in the back as the drummer (I love how self-aware the band appear to be of this in their promo picture). The only two other bands off the top of my head that have the same combinations are Haim and Elastica during their first album (before they ruined it by adding two members and releasing their goodness-awful follow-up "The Menace"). There's probably a sociological reason why this gender ratio is not more common in rock music, but I think I will leave it up to someone much smarter than myself to narrow down the exact reasons why.

What is clear however is that the latest single from Major Leagues, "Endless Drain", is a rather marvelous song indeed. Clocking in just over the two minute mark, the song is a lovely slice of reverb drenched indie-surf rock which matches up a great chorus with a somewhat sinister guitar riff, one which fans of Best Coast
will absolutely love to pieces.

"Endless Drain" is available to download now.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Feet For Wings - Homes E.P

Belfast based Feet For Wings are a group who have existed on the periphery of the local music scene for what seems like eons - a band who have been ever present for several years without really becoming mainstays of the scene, in spite of a few decent tracks along the way. With the release of  "Homes", an E.P containing the band's best songs to date, there is every possibility that this might change.

It is clear from from the onset that "Homes" is evident of the band's improved sense of production, professionalism and melody. The whole E.P is sounds fantastic, with Feet For Wings' modern folk stylings never sounding better. The highlights of the record would be "Homes", a song that combines delicate fragility with a rocky edge, and the sublime "Hold Your Tongue", a song that utilizes Simon & Garfunkel-esque harmonies to wonderful effect.

"Homes" by Feet For Wings is available to download now.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Public Service Broadcasting - Night Mail

So the Mercury Prize has come around again, and like clockwork there's the inevitable backlash against the albums that have made the shortlist. With hundreds of albums from the UK and Ireland released every year and only 12 albums making the shortlist, it goes without saying that not everyone is going to be happy with the albums on the list. However, it appears that this year, the judging panel have released a 'bubblewrap' shortlist - going for the safest possible list in order to deflect themselves from criticism and the inevitable cries of "who's that?" whenever someone who's barely sold 100 albums makes the list. Don't get me wrong, there are some great albums on this year's list. I definitely wouldn't begrudge the inclusion of Foals, Jake Bugg & Arctic Monkeys. But when the biggest surprise nomination is Jon Hopkins, a man who has produced for Coldplay, then they have quite possibly got it wrong.

There have been so many great albums from less established or more interesting artists like Melt Yourself Down, Outfit & Girls Names who would have made worthy additions to the list, and it seems a shame that the Mercury Prize has played it incredibly safe this year. Some people are claiming that it is time to put the prize itself to sleep as it is no longer meeting its initial purpose to allow more niche artists to compete on level terms with more established artists. I still see the merit in the Mercury Prize - after all, I would never have discovered one of my favourite albums of all time, "We Can Create" by Maps, without the list. What I do hope happens is that as a result of this year's criticisms, next year's list with have a little bit more of an 'edge' to it.

After all, how the heck did this year's voting panel miss out on "Inform - Educate - Entertain", the stunning debut album by Public Service Broadcasting? The album seems to fit the essential criteria for appearing on the list - the album sounds like nothing else that has been released this year, it shows an amount of innovation which will lead it to being influential, there is not a single bad track on it, and it is an album that could be revisited several years down the line and still hold up as a great work of art. I don't know the reason why it didn't make the shortlist, although the two most logical reasons I can think of for its exclusion are a) The band themselves didn't put it forward for consideration, or b) The Mercury Prize judging panel do not have ears.

At least fans of Public Service Broadcasting can be happy in the knowledge that the band themselves will continue to pick up even more steam over the next few months. They are going on tour of the UK in November (including a return to Belfast on November 15th), and later this month they are going to be supporting Manic Street Preachers on a number of dates (which is rather apt, giving that the use of samples on "The Holy Bible" was one of the inspirations for PSB). In addition to this, they are releasing a new single from the album, "Night Mail" to coincide with their dates. The song takes its title and samples from the 1936 documentary of the same name, which incorporates a poem by W.H Auden in a rap-like fashion and overlays it with PSB's own brand of electronic rock production. It's one of the best songs on the album which hasn't been released as a single yet (alongside "The Now Generation"), so it's great to see it getting some more promotion.

Here's a final thought to leave you with - because "Inform - Educate - Entertain" charted within the top 40, Public Service Broadcasting are eligible for nomination for the 2014 Brit Awards. Does anybody have a list of phone numbers for the judging panel?

"Night Mail" will be released on November 4th.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

A Plastic Rose - This Side of Winter

A Plastic Rose have been very busy boys this year. As well as relocating from Belfast to Nottingham, they have also found the time to re-release their undoubted trademark track "Kids Don't Behave Like This" (which was used in an episode of brain numbing TV show Hollyoaks), and get some mainland gigs under their belt, including a support slot with The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park. The band are due to release their first fresh new single since the release of "Camera.Shutter.Life", and there is every hope that the song will help them to build an even larger audience.

This is because "This Side of Winter" is, for lack of better phrasing, their poppiest, and most accessible single to date. And without sounding premature, it is also their best. The loud guitars and angsty vocals of APR of old are still intact, but on this occasion it has been utilized in an incredibly radio-friendly manner (well, as radio-friendly as a song with shredding in the middle 8 can be). There are lovely Britpop vibes coming from the song, which is particularly welcome from a blog which has long worshiped at the feet of that movement, and is also reminiscent of a heavier version of the similarly influenced Tribes.

A Plastic Rose have been held in high regard in Northern Ireland for many years now, and in the past few months their reputation has started to build in the rest of the UK too. If the fabulous "This Side of Winter" does not significantly boost their reputation on a much wider scale, then it will be disappointing indeed.

"This Side of Winter" will be released on October 28th.

WARNING - video contains a scene of simulated violence against a stuffed animal, which owners of stuffed animals may find distressing:

Rhodes - Run

Earlier this year, Hitchen based singer/songwriter Rhodes picked up a lot of attention for his demo "Always", first charming the attention of radio bigwigs before spreading over to the blogosphere (including yours truly). Thanks to the attention he has received, he has now signed a record deal with Hometown Records (a label which is co-run by Radio 1's Phil Taggart), and is due to release his debut E.P next month.

The lead track from the E.P, "Run", has just been released to the interwebs. The track packs a bigger punch than his previously released recordings, with a slightly more expansive folksy production style and a massive, yet ethereal chorus. Rhodes' voice reminds me a little of Andrew Montgomery from Geneva in places, and the chorus does have a little bit of Chris Issak's "Wicked Game" to it, both of which are definitely not criticisms or complaints.

Given the release date of his E.P, as well as his increasing popularity, it would appear that Rhodes is being positioned by the powers that be for inclusion on the tips for 2014 list of every "taste maker" under the sun. If he can deliver more songs like "Run" on his E.P, then I imagine that his name might show up in a few more lists.

"Run" will feature on the "Raise You Love" EP, which is released on October 28th.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Clameens - What's the Difference

Derry band The Clameens have been making some decent waves locally over the past few months. Since the release of their last single "#Follow", the teen quartet impressed many people (including yours truly) during their set at this year's Glasgowbury Festival. They've also gained the support of Pete Doherty, and are due to support The Magic Numbers in The Empire in Belfast later on this month.

So given that they've got the support of some of the big names of mid 00s indie-rock, you could probably have a decent idea as to what The Clameens' new single "What's The Difference" sounds like. Like its predecessor "#Follow", there is a little bit of Kings of Leon going on. However, this one feels a little less derivative, as the band appear to have injected some of their own style into the proceedings. The harmony vocal intro is nicely done, whilst the guitar harmonics and gang vocals add a little touch of brilliance to what could have been a quite pedestrian song.

The Clameens are starting to build themselves towards being a force to be reckoned with on the local scene. They've got a few decent songs in their repertoire, and with a few more in the same vein as "What's The Difference" that reflect their influences rather than just copy them, they could just break out in the next year.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Album Review: Coney Island Sound - Klang!

(Score Draw Music)

Coney Island Sound is the project of  Ewan Gordon, a Northern Irish native who's now based in sunny Northumberland. A self-described experimental electronic folk artist, he mixes toy pianos and keyboards with found percussive sounds and guitar and string loops to create his coast-inspired music. Having released several singles over the past year, his debut full-length album, "Klang!", was released last month. Despite the esoteric nature of the release, it has picked up quite a bit of radio support, with Radio Ulster, 6music and XFM all supporting various tracks on the album. And it's not hard to see why the album has picked up such support. 

"Klang!" is made of happiness. 

The album starts off with "Introducing Mr Kellogg", a track which is built around a riff which appears to have been composed on an old mobile phone, to which the sounds of music boxes, birdsong, subtle percussion and string loops are added to create a cacophony of musical loveliness. The other main highlight of the album is "The Lemonade Song". The track is one of the few tracks on the album to feature vocals, albeit vocals which have been somewhat warped to the point where they become more atmospheric than melodic, coming off like a great successor to the music of Lemon Jelly.  

Although those songs are the highlights of the album, it should be noted that the album works much better as a whole rather than dissecting each track individually (although from this blog's perspective, it's nice to see tracks titled "Nautical By Nature" and "Romaji"). "Klang!" by Coney Island Sound is 52 minutes of relaxing, soul soothing, largely instrumental music which makes life that little bit happier. Fans of artists like Lemon Jelly, Penguin Cafe Orchestra & The Go! Team's instrumental interludes will find much to like here, but in truth Coney Island Sound stands up as a highly original piece of work in its own right. You will be hard pressed to find an album like it this year.

Release Date: 12th August 2013

Highlights: "Introducing Mr Kellogg", "The Lemonade Song", "Science & Health".

Monday, 2 September 2013

Clear - Sunlight

Now that we are into September, the month where the heat generating orb in the sky begins to fade for the majority of the day, here is a song that should help to brighten your day. "Sunlight" is the debut single by Clear, a band who have close connections to Richard Hawley - two of the members have played in his live band, and their drummer, Andy Cook, was a member of Britpop legends Longpigs. The song is a lucious piece of timeless guitar-pop, with its harmony vocals calling to mind some of the best bits of Teenage Fanclub. It might not be the most complex song you'll hear this year, but it is the simplicity of the songwriting that makes the song so brilliant.

Album Review: Foy Vance - Joy of Nothing


"Joy of Nothing", the new album by Bangor born Foy Vance, has been a long time coming. It's been six years since the release of his debut, "Hope", an album which has had an impact on many up and coming Northern Irish musicians. Just take a look at the influences lists of any artist from here with even the slightest folk tinge - 9 time out of 10, you'll find Mr Vance's name listed. 

So with a bigger profile, and thousands of adoring ears awaiting his much anticipated sophomore album, the question is this - "What sort of album will Foy Vance have to offer us?" The answer, at least from this blog's humble opinion, is an album which is designed solely to rile up sniffy, "trendy" music critics.

Evidence for the Prosecution #1 - The album as a whole channels genres and sounds that certain critics just love to take umbrage at, with elements of folk, country, midwestern rock all cropping up throughout the 42 minute run time of "Joy of Nothing".

Evidence for the Prosecution #2 - With its unconventional chord progression, one of the songs on the album, "Paper Prince", seems to be Mr Vance's take on the sound of Radiohead circa "OK Computer". For most critics, especially those of the Pitchfork variety, only one band is allowed to sound like Radiohead, and that's Radiohead.

Evidence for the Prosecution #3 - The final track on the album, "Guiding Light", features guest vocals from Ed Sheeran, whom Foy became acquainted with after supporting him on his US tour. Given Mr Sheeran's current role as a critical punching bag (unfairly in my opinion), his appearance would give critics the opportunity to direct some of the negatives adjectives used to describe Sheeran directly at Mr Vance (eg. boring, bland, etc).

So the evidence for critical derision appears pretty damning, but has the album been received poorly? Quite the opposite, in fact. Aside from the odd review backhandedly comparing it to Mumford & Sons, most of the reviews for "Joy of Nothing" have been quite positive.

And it's not hard to see why, as it's a collection of ten songs from an artist who isn't afraid to wear his heart directly on his sleeve. From the opening piano-led salvo "Closed Hand, Full Of Friends", through to "At Least My Heart Was Open" and the string-laden "Regarding Your Lover", the album is a great mix of Springsteen-esque anthemics, folksy rock, and sincere, strong vocals from Foy Vance. And surprisingly (or unsurprisingly), it is the closing ballad, "Guiding Light", featuring the aforementioned Ed Sheeran, which provides the ultimate highlight of the set.

There is the odd track which doesn't quite make an impact - "Feel For Me" sounds too much like a Commodores album track, and not in a good way. But overall, "Joy of Nothing" by Foy Vance is a splendid little album which should find favour with those who like their music a little bit on the wistful side.

Released - 26th August 2013

Highlights - "Closed Hand, Full Of Friends", "Guiding Light", "Joy of Nothing".