Wednesday, 29 January 2014

SOAK - Blud

Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, has been the darling of music in Northern Ireland since she first broke through in 2012, releasing the acclaimed "Sea Creatures" E.P and filling the acoustic tent to the rafters at Glasgowbury that year. Following a year where she signed a publishing deal with Universal, as well as touring far and wide with Tegan & Sara, 2014 is shaping up to be the year where the world will awaken to her sound. She's already started off well, signing to Goodbye Records, which is owned by last year's breakout artist Chvrches, and with support slots with them and George Ezra lined up in the next few months, what better time to grace us with "Blud", her first new song in what seems like an age.

Like the material that has gone before, "Blud" showcases the paradox that surrounds SOAK's music - this is undoubtedly the work of a young soul (she won't be 18 for some months yet), yet her lyrics show a maturity that some people twice her age have failed to pull off.

The song has already picked up a bit of airplay on Radio 1, and whilst it probably won't be the track that smashes her into the mainstream, it definitely feels like she is only one or two tracks away from doing so. For two years now everyone from Northern Ireland has been banging on about SOAK to everybody that will listen. 2014 will be the year everyone else realises that we weren't crazy.

"Blud" will be released on March 17th, both on download and vinyl.

Abandcalledboy - Cliff Richard

Point of clarification - the artist in question is called Abandcalledboy, and the name of the song is called "Cliff Richard".

There. Now you don't have to click out of this post in disgust.

Northern Irish hard rock trio Abandcalledboy have released the first song from their upcoming self-titled E.P, which is due out sometime in April. So far, so normal. But what if I was to tell you that the song was a surprisingly affectionate "tribute" to the Peter Pan of Pop himself, "Cliff Richard", and that the music video features the members of the band taking on his look from three of his distinctive eras (presumably 50s, 70s, and tennis enthusiast Cliff)? Now you're talking.

It's a great little video, and darkly humourous song from the boys, and with so many heavy rock bands currently plying their trade locally, it's good that they're making real efforts to stand out from the crowd, for better or for worse.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Prides - The Seeds You Sow

Q. What type of material is "The Seeds You Sow", the new single from Glasgow based trio Prides, made out of?

A. Chart material. It is made of chart material.

Prides crashed onto our radar back in May with the stonkingly good "Out Of The Blue", a track so good that the only people who hate it are those without ears and prog-rock fans. Now with a major label behind them, the band are lining up their first E.P release in March. Before that, they've got new single "The Seeds You Sow" coming out, and if that song doesn't give them their first charting single, then I honestly don't know what will. It's a fantastic slice of synth-pop that isn't afraid to overload on infectious hooks. Prides are on the tipping point to greatness, and "The Seeds You Sow" deserves to be the song that pushes them there.

"The Seeds You Sow" will be released as a single on February 10th, with the E.P to follow on March 31st.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Album Review: Ed Zealous - Wired

(Third Bar)

The release of the debut album by Belfast's Ed Zealous has been a long time coming. After all, they were being tipped for greatness as far back as 2008, and by 2012 it seemed as if they would never even get to the stage of releasing a full-length. They proved the doubters wrong by releasing an onslaught of new singles over the space of a year, and now in 2014 the band are releasing "Wired", which has been produced by Eliot James, who has previously sprinkled his pixie dust on records by Bloc Party & Does It Offend You, Yeah?. So does the album live up to the anticipation?

Yes. Yes it does.

Let's start with the singles. "Medicines", arguably the song that helped to boost their profile outside of Northern Ireland. is a storming slice of scuzzy electro-rock with a great big chorus. "Thanks A Million" sounds like a song that The Killers would be too scared to put their name towards (in a good way obviously). "Telepaths" is shred-tastic, whilst "Diamonds For Eyes", a song which has picked up a decent following on the blogosphere in the past month since its promotion from buzz track to fully fledged single, is the strongest of the lot, possibly because it's so sonically different from the others.

Which leads me on to one minor quibble with the album. The majority of the songs seem to fit into the same musical archetype - songs with fizzy, dirty electronics, pounding drum beats, great big choruses and a mid-tempo pace seem to dominate the album, with "Talk With Yours Hands", "These Words" and closing track "This Is Not The End" fitting nicely into this pattern. Of course, in the hands of Ed Zealous each of these tracks still sounds rather good in isolation, but over the course of an album a tiny bit more variety would not have gone amiss.

That's not to say that they don't try different things on the album. The album's opener "147" is what one might imagine The Prodigy would sound like if they ever tried their hand at an indie-rock tune, "I Will Destroy You" is like a less-shouty version of Crystal Castles, whilst the cheekily-titled "Videohead" sees the band tackle drum & bass with much aplomb, and must surely be a contender for single status once the album comes out.

It's been a long time coming, but "Wired" has been long worth the wait. Although the band do seem to play it slightly safe at times, the album is a great demonstration of their electro-rock nouse. Whilst it is still early in the year, you'd be a fool not to put money on "Wired" by Ed Zealous being named one of the best albums from Northern Ireland from the year come December time. 

Released - 3rd February 2014

Highlights - "Medicines", "Diamonds For Eyes", "Videohead".

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Fox Jaw - Kerosene

It's been nearly two years since witnessing Limerick band Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters playing a blinding set at the 2012 Glasgowbury Festival to an unfortunately meager crowd. But the group haven't been without their successes, with their debut album "The Devil In Music" picking up critical praise and getting music featured in a an advert for Becks (the alcohol, not the singer, nor the footballer).

Fast forward to 2014, and the band have shortened their name to just Fox Jaw, and are gearing up to release their sophomore album "Ghost's Parade". Before that though they've got a new single out, "Kerosene". The song itself is a sinister blues-rock tune very much in the mold of Tom Waits (albeit with a less whisky-soaked singer). The music video, which has already picked up quite a few fans, lightens the tone slightly, taking the form of an affectionate pastiche to THAT scene from Reservoir Dogs.

"Kerosene" will be released on February 28th, as a download and limited edition 7" vinyl.

Chordblossom Kickstart 2014

We don't normally run press releases on the blog, but in this case we will make an exception, giving that this is a wonderful opportunity for Northern Irish artists to get a head start in their career:

Champions of Northern Irish music, Chordblossom, are pleased to announce that their massive Kickstart competition is returning for 2014 with a whole host of great prizes and a new format!

Previous winners of the competition have included Derry’s SOAK and Those Ghosts from Stabane. The former recently signed with Goodbye Records and went on tour with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club and Tegan & Sara. Last year’s winners Those Ghosts played a rousing slot at the final Glasgowbury, releasing their debut single "Explain" and are steadily building up a head of steam.

Editor of Chordblossom, Robert Brown had this to say, “The essence of Kickstart is to provide the perfect platform for one lucky band/musician to make 2014 a year to remember! The key prize for many will be the recording of a single at Millbank Studios alongside a slot at the renowned Limavady music festival, Stendhal. We are very grateful to all of the organisations that have donated a prize, they have demonstrated the commitment we have in Northern Ireland to develop and nurture local talent.”

Musicians of all kinds from Northern Ireland are invited to get involved with the competition. No matter how young, old or what genre you play. As long as you haven’t released a full length album, you’re eligible!

After the first round of submissions are complete, a shortlist of twenty acts will be decided by the site’s writing staff. These twenty will then be put forward to a public vote when they will be narrowed down to the Final Five. The concluding round for the artists will be a showcase gig in association with Belfast’s Queens Radio. On that night a collection of local music industry experts will decide the winner of Kickstart 2014!

The prize for the winner is as follows:

Millbank Studios - Single Recording
Dog Kennel Productions - Single Video
DSNT - Single Cover Design
Electric Mainline - 1st Play of single
Stendhal Festival - Festival Slot
Third Bar - Professional Advice
In Your Steps - 1 Month's PR
Shizznigh Promotions - Belfast Gig
Botanic Media - CD Dupilcation
Love Print & Design - Graphic Design for Poster & Flyer printing
Barry Wright - Photo Shoot
Write It For Me - Professional Bio
Chordblossom - TV Session

Timeline for the Competition:

Thursday, 23rd January 2014 - Competition announced and entry opens.
Friday, 7th February 2014 - Entries Close
Friday, 14th February 2014 - Top 20 Announced - Voting Opens
Sunday, 23rd February 2014 - Voting Closes
Monday, 24th February 2014 – Final 5 Announced
TBC March 2014 – Showcase Gig & Winner Announced

 How to enter:

You simply need to send an email to with the following information:

Band/Musician Name:
An mp3 of your best track:
A Social Media Link:

The competition can be viewed here.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ibibio Sound Machine - Let's Dance

Has the critical success of Melt Yourself Down led to a greater public awareness of more artists with a more cosmopolitan musical outlook, or is it just that I'm noticing it more because of how much I enjoyed MYD? Either way, it's great to see more artists coming through with such genre-defying sounds, such as London based Ibibio Sound Machine.

Fronted by British/Nigerian singer Eno Williams, the 8-piece group's new single "Let's Dance" has already enjoyed some success, having graced the BBC 6music playlist before it's even been officially released. It's not hard to see why it's gone down so well, with a sound that mixes modern electronica with exotic rhythms, great brassy lines, and the half sung/half rapped vocals of Eno, which are sung in both English and Ibibio (hence the band's name). It's one of the danciest new songs you're likely to hear this January, so let your inhibitions go and just move to the rhythm.

"Let's Dance" will be released of 27th January. Ibibio Sound Machine's self-titled debut album will be released on 17th March.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Babypink - Petrichor

If you're anything like me (or possibly, much more likely, even if you're absolutely nothing like me), then there has been a massive gap in our hearts ever since the glorious Tribes called time on their career at the end of last year. Since that day, the immortal question that has passed through heads has been thus - "Whosoever could take their place to be the new rulers of Britpop revival?"

At the moment, it looks as if that mantle will be taken on by Superfood, who are already starting to make steps towards ubiquity. But another challenger came to our attention at the weekend thanks to a post from one of our favourite music blogs, Breaking More Waves, and perhaps unsurprisingly, they hail from the city which is seen as the Mecca of the guitar revivalists, Birmingham. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Babypink.

Of the two demos currently gracing their Soundcloud page, it is "Petrichor" which is getting people excited. And it's not hard to hear why. As noted elsewhere, it has a little bit of Pixies to it (more specifically, "Wave Of Mutilation"), whilst also sharing a similar sound to our dear departed Tribes, as well as fellow Brummies Swim Deep. And whilst it might be slightly trite to say so, the song's central guitar riff is just dying to be roared out by thousands of screaming revelers at festivals across the land.

The hole left in our heart might be wide, but it looks like Babypink have the right tools at their disposal to repair it.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Little Comets - Little Italy

Back in 2012, Little Comets surprised this blog (and in honesty, quite a few other people as well), by releasing "Life Is Elsewhere", a breathtaking, surprisingly underrated album which ended up as our favourite album of the year. Now a year an a half later, during which time their Dirty Hit label mates The 1975 have gone on to international stardom, the band have announced they will be releasing 3 E.Ps and an album over the course of the year. Quite a treasure trove in store for fans of the band.

But as a great philosopher once wrote, naughty naughty, very naughty the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, and Little Comets' first step into 2014 comes in the form of "Little Italy". The song is a natural progression from the sound of their last album, keeping the unconventional rhythms and brash alternative-indie stylings intact, whilst elevating the confessional and political aspects that weren't as heavily touched upon to the forefront. As the band state on their blog announcing their yearly plans"we’ve collected together four songs which are a lyrical representation of our opinions on life – all first hand accounts." Little Comets are genuinely one of the most interesting "indie" bands currently plying their trade in the UK at the moment. Let's hope that this year sees them get the mainstream breakthrough they so deserve.

"Little Italy" is taken from the E.P "The Gentle", which will be released as a limited edition CD on 23rd February.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Boxing Plot - Heidecker

Dublin band The Boxing Plot have already picked up a bit of a following down south, having played at the Hard Working Class Festival as well as picking up airplay from one of Ireland's best alternative radio stations, Phantom 105.2. They have started 2014 as they mean to go on by unleashing their latest single on the world, "Heidecker". Presumably taking its name from an American comedian (and not, as I first suspected, from the brand name of a power tool), the song can probably be best described as sounding like Editors with a much cheerier disposition. I mean honestly, could you imagine Tom Smith & co releasing a bean-tastic music video for any of their tunes? I think not.

"Heidecker" is available to download from all good music download sites (and a few bad ones as well, one imagines).

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Free Swim - Transatlantic Tumnus

Back in 2012, Free Swim released the thoroughly enjoyable tune "The Smell of Pregnancy", a song as fantastic as it was downright bizarre., which later became one of the blog's most enjoyable songs of the year. Later releases, like the "She Dreams In Lights" EP and Paul Coltofeanu's releases under the Android Angel moniker last year suggested that the project would be moving into more introverted, less bonkers territory.

How wrong we were, as this week Free Swim have released their first song from an upcoming E.P, "Transatlantic Tumnus." All the hallmarks that first piqued interest in the band are here, from the great rock setup, the offhand references to food, and gloriously off-kilter wordplay ("we put kittens into mittens in a Tory constituency"). What sets this song apart from their other material is its slightly satirical bent, offering a critique of modern British life.

Free Swim have usually excelled when they take a trip on the good plane bonkers, so it's great to see them back in 2014 making that lauded trip.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Colourmusic - Horse Race

In most cases when a band says that they're experimental, what they are really saying is "we're trying to sound like Radiohead, but are failing miserably." So it's nice to see a band who really are experimental, like Yorkshire/Oklahoma gang Colourmusic. To date, the band have written songs based on Newton’s theory of colour, as well as songs written at the tempo people have sex, and have given us wonderful songs like "Put In A Little Gas" and "Yes!" as a result of these sojourns into the left-field.

With a third album due out in 2014, the band have released their first track of the year, the low slung "Horse Race", a song that seeks to answer the question mankind has been asking for ages: "Do we need Wal-Marts in Heaven"? Anyone looking for theological certainty in this song will be disappointed, but for those people who love slow, groove-laden alternate-rock, then "Horse Race" might be the answer to your prayers.

Colourmusic's album "May You Marry Rich" will be released on March 24, with "Horse Race" available to download as an instant grat track with pre-orders.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #22

It's a new year for all of us (obviously - that's how time works), and in terms of music-y things from Northern Ireland 2014 has got off to a cracking start, with news that Good Vibrations, the film about the birth of the region's punk scene in the 1970s, has been unexpectedly nominated for a BAFTA. The film was one of the best films released last year, with the legendary Mark Kermode calling it the best, so if you haven't seen it yet, then definitely get around to it

But let's not reflect on the past for too long, for there have been some lovely wee tunes from here floating The Metaphorical Boat this month. Here's a few of them:

Rory Nellis - Mind Control

Rory Nellis has taken some time out from his Seven Summits duties in order to record a solo E.P, "Moon", which will be launched on February 1st at the Sunflower Bar in Belfast, one of the best new venues to pop up here in the past year. Taken from that release is the breezy "Mind Control", which is a great, uncomplicated little guitar-pop ditty.

Mojo Gogo - 4.20

You've got to love a song with a rollicking, thunderingly great drum intro, like "4.20" by Derry 4-piece Mojo Gogo. Thankfully, the rest of the song is pretty decent too. Think "Dakota" by Stereophonics with a little bit more of an edge and you've got a good idea of what they sound like. It's the lead track from their E.P "Streets, Backstreets & Envy", which will be out around March.


Morgan Macintyre - Dancing Down Ravenhill

Morgan Macintyre has only fairly recently begun to make a name for herself locally, but it's safe to say that she must have made a good first impression, with Gary Lightbody singing her praises and a well received launch gig in The Empire for her E.P, "Dancing Down Ravenhill". Listening that E.P's title track, it's easy to see why the praise has been to deserved - she's got a voice as delicate and beautiful as Hannah from London Grammar, which is shown off to great effect on this powerful, folky tune. Keep an eye on her - she's destined for great things.


Meb Jon Sol - Captain Of This Ship

Well, there's no way I couldn't feature a fellow captain on TMB, couldn't I?

Meb Jon Sol is the new project of Michael McCullough, who was previously a member of the much lauded Colenso Parade (a band that also featured a certain Mr. Phil Taggart). His debut single is "Captain Of This Ship", a song which could be the first song in the newly-Christened genre of 'shanty-punk' (seapunk's already been taken). It's a great wee opening gambit of a song, and it's good to know that if this blog ever becomes important enough to warrant its own theme tune, we know exactly who we could turn to to write it.

Monday, 13 January 2014

Skaters - Miss Teen Massachusetts

I've been meaning to write about New York rockers Skaters for over a year now, but for various reasons never got around to doing so. It's fair to say however that they've done pretty well in that time, entertaining crowd on both sides of the Atlantic, gracing the playlists of Radio 1, and given us some great tunes like "I Wanna Dance (But I Don't Know How)", a song that came dangerously close to making the blog's top songs of last year.

So with their debut album almost upon us, now seems like the most opportune time to give them a few metaphorical inches, with the release of their new single "Miss Teen Massachusetts". Given that it sounds a bit like Menswe@r, you can tell that it's right up my street.* If you're looking for youthful guitar pop that doesn't take itself to seriously, then you could do a lot worse than Skaters.

Their debut album, "Manhattan", will be released on February 25th.

*That's not sarcasm. Seriously, have you ever heard "Daydreamer"? It's wonderful.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Fjords - Polymath

Have you ever found yourself pining for the fjords? Well fear not, parrot fans, because today we bring them to you. Cardiff 5-piece Fjords already have a few plaudits to their name, being named Best Unsigned Band at the Best of British Unsigned Music Awards last year, and their alleged fans include the Manic Street Preachers and the most expensive footballer of all time, Gareth Bale (whom I am reliably informed is almost as good a player as Dion Dublin).

Having now signed to a label, the band are due to release their upcoming single "Polymath". If you're a fan of the indie-dance sound of contemporaries like Two Door Cinema Club, but find them a little bit too chirpy, then this might be your cup of tea, as a dark, icy undercurrent runs right through this rather infectious tune.

"Polymath" will be released on 1st March.

Photo is Ⓒ Owen Mathias

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Girl Band - Lawman

Say what you like about Pitchfork (and most people do - see the hilarious Pitchfork Me Twitter feed), but no-one can doubt the effect that a feature on the website can do for emerging artists, particularly artists on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. Would Girls Names have been the biggest Belfast band on the blogosphere if Pitchfork hadn't supported them from an early stage? Quite possibly, but it didn't do them any harm.

Which brings us to Dublin band Girl Band, whom we last mentioned on the blog just over a year ago. Earlier this week, they released the six minute track "Lawman", which received instant praise from some of our favourite blogs. By Thursday that praise extended as far as America, with musical juggernaut that is Pitchfork devoted several column inches to sing the praises of the band in a way that only Pitchfork can do

So is "Lawman" worth the praise it's receiving? If you've been a fan of their primal, sludgy sound in the past, then you'll not be disappointed, although it's an odd beast of a tune, with a bass line giving it more in line with Benny Benassi than of the Pixies. Call it a melodic drone, if you will. It's probably a smidgen too long at 6 minutes, but by the end of it you won't realise where the time has gone. 

"Lawman" is available as a free download, and is also available to buy as a limited edition 7" vinyl with a hand-stitched cover. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Gorgeous Bully - Sinking Feeling

If there's one thing that the world needs more of, it's scuzzy garage rock with a pop aesthetic.

Actually, that's a bare faced lie. Musicdom is becoming over-saturated with scuzzy rock with a pop aesthetic. Those Vaccines boys sure have a lot to answer for.

But that doesn't mean that there shouldn't be room in your heart for another band of the like. Enter Gorgeous Bully, a four-piece group based in Manchester. Their latest single "Sinking Feeling" may put off people who have been overwhelmed by the lo-fi indie-pop sound that's been popular of late, but it's worth a listen regardless, because a) the band share a label with some of the better artists of the wave, like Best Friends & The Black Tambourines b) it's got a delicious, simple little guitar riff running through it, and c) it's only 139 seconds short, so if the song's not your metaphorical cup of tea, at least it hasn't taken too much time out of your life to listen to.

"Sinking Feeling" is available now as a free download. It will feature on their E.P ""Nobody Hates You As Much as You Hate Yourself", which will be released on February 17th as a limited edition cassette, complete with badges & a lighter/bottle opener.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Fickle Friends - Swim

Fun fact about Brighton based band Fickle Friends - their debut single was made with the help of TV chef Jamie Oliver, who paid for their recording after being impressed by their sound. Because if anyone's got a good ear for music, it's the former drummer for Scarlet Division.

Their debut single, "Swim", is a nice little indie-pop number that sits nicely on the fine edges between Passion Pit, Phoenix & AlunaGeorge, with a subtle yet effectively layered production style helping to make it stand out from other songs of its ilk.

"Swim" is available to download now.

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 - The Winners

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 is a poll of 59 UK based music bloggers. It asked them to each vote for their three favourite emerging artists. This is the third year the poll has taken place and for the first time two artists have tied for equal first place, each receiving an identical number of votes. Congratulations to Marika Hackman and Banks. Singer songwriter Sivu came third.

Marika Hackman is a British solo musician who writes haunting and captivating songs that feature her ethereal vocals and instrumentation that that has been pigeonholed as folk but often offers much more. She was the 8th most blogged artist by UK based Hype Machine listed bloggers in 2013

Banks is an American musician who makes sultry modern sounding electronic R & B influenced pop. She was the 9th most blogged artist by UK based Hype Machine listed bloggers in 2013.

The UK Blog Sound of 2014 is a poll designed to compliment the BBC Sound of poll and is voted for solely by UK music blogs. Of the 15 acts on the BBC Sound of list 7 of them failed to secure a single vote from UK Blog Sound voters.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The Metaphorical Boat - Thoughts Of '13, Resolutions for '14.

2014 - we are inside you.

The earth has finally made a full rotation around the sun, as we wave goodbye to the year 2013. 2013 has been a memorable year for both myself and the blog. The amount of visitors The Metaphorical Boat has received in 2013 is about 25% above what we received in 2012, which is pretty good considering the hallowed cries of the doom-mongers claiming that music blogs are dying (note to said people - we're not). Outside of TMB, I stepped down from my role as Head of Music at Queen's Radio, and left the station after being involved with it for 5 years. It was sad to go, but it was time for me to move on, and by all accounts, my replacement in the role, Robyn, has done a sterling job.

At the start of 2013, I set a few New Year's Resolutions for things I wanted to achieve for the blog over the next 12 months. This is what was set, and whether they were matched or not:

1. Write more long-form articles.
Aside from a quasi-scientific look at which acts nominated for the Northern Irish Music Prize were the most popular among fans, the blog tended to steer away from the long form, opinionated articles. Instead. we tended to incorporate these into posts about artists and songs, if there were relevant, eg. our opinions about the Mercury Prize were tied in to a post about the new single from Public Service Broadcasting (how the heck did "Inform - Educate - Entertain" not get nominated? I will never know), and you found out our opinions on songs being used in adverts whilst enjoying the lovely rumblings of Trwbador. I'm not sure whether this is a better or worse way to do it, but it seems to work for us. 

2. Start conducting interviews for the blog
None on this blog in 2013, although I did have the opportunity to interview the wonderful J Wilgoose Esq. for Chordblossom. 

3. Continue to cover as many exciting Northern Irish artists as possible.
I'd like to think that we covered a wide range of artists from NI in 2013. With artists like Girls Names, ASIWYFA and Foy Vance releasing great albums in 2013, and many others making fantastic music, it was a great year for the province. It's just a pity that there weren't any artists from here to break through to the mainstream nationally, but here's hoping that 2014 will be that year.

4. Encourage the establishment of more Northern Ireland music blogs.
It got a bit lonelier for me on The Hype Machine this year, as the only other Northern Irish based blog to have been indexed there, besides ourselves, has been removed. Unfortunately, despite my encouragement over the year, it doesn't seem as if there are any blogs from here that are likely to step up to the Hype Machine any time soon. 

I should point out two of the new ones that have popped up in 2013. There's Encore NI, run by Taylor Johnson (who's also the lead singer for Paper Man, who I imagine will have some great music in store this year). It may not my the most prolific music blog to date, but there's to denying its passion for local music, as well as its ability to dissect what exactly makes a song great in much more detail that I could ever dream of doing. There's also The FML Blog, which looks at fashion & lifestyle in addition to local music. It's been relatively dormant for the past few months, but it seems as if it will be restarting with a vengeance in 2014, which I will be looking forward to.

In terms of new music websites based here, there's been quite a few big ones either continuing their great work or starting up. Chordblossom continues to be going strongly, with the site now under new ownership (good luck, Rob!). The other big NI music site this year has been The Thin Air, which was started earlier this year by much of the team who were involved in the now-defunct AU Magazine. Also relaunching this year was Gigging NI, a site which was very influential locally for a while in its day, but had been inactive for a few years. Finally, BandsNI made the step up from Twitter/Facebook to a fully fledged website, which offers a lot of great advice to new artists, alongside reviews of music.

So all in all, a great year for new NI based music websites, but not as good for music blogs. I doubt this blog was the spark that encouraged any of them to start, but you never know.

5. Buy a captain's hat
The captain remains hat less, I repeat, hat less.

So very hit an miss then. So what are our resolutions for 2014? Some of them may be familiar. They are:

1. Continue to cover as many brilliant Northern Irish artists as possible. 
This shouldn't be too hard in 2014, given that artists such as Wonder Villains and Ed Zealous are due to release their debut albums this years, whilst others like A Plastic Rose, Little Bear & In An Instant are going to continue making brilliant music. 

And to show that we're starting as we mean to go on, here is the latest single from Dromore nu-folk band Hillspeak, "The Dusty Mountain". I am genuinely shocked that other local music-y types besides myself have yet to pick up on them yet. Hopefully people will wake up to them this year.

2. Encourage the establishment of more Northern Ireland music blogs.
Are you based in Northern Ireland, and absolutely love music, especially of the local variety?


Are you based in Northern Ireland, and absolutely despise music, especially of the local variety?


There, that should do the trick.

3. Get to a new music festival outside of Northern Ireland.
It may surprise you, but despite my love of music, I have only been to two festivals in my lifetime, and both of them were Glasgowbury (RIP). So this year, I intend to broaden my horizons by attending a festival outside of my place of residence. Top of the list of where I'd like to go is The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, where hundreds of new and emerging artists play in 30 venues over the course of a long weekend. Life permitting, I hope to attend in May this year, covering as many exciting new artist as I can for the blog, and hopefully catch a few other Northern Irish artists who've also made the trip.

And finally -

4. Buy a Captain's Hat. 
Because why not?