Thursday, 31 July 2014

Rainy Boy Sleep - Ambulance

Remember back in November 2012 when we confidently predicted that Derry native Rainy Boy Sleep would be one of the artists to watch in 2013? (Of course you do. If not, here's the evidence). In the end, we got that one wrong, but from the looks of things, we were just one year out (in the words of the immortal Ken Bruce).

At the start of 2014, Stevie announced that he had signed a record deal with Universal Music Ireland, and so far this year he's played Glastonbury and been lucky enough to support the now cool again band The Waterboys on a string of dates. His first major label single to be released is "Ambulance", a song that seems to be aimed straight for the mainstream. It's a breezy yet dark acoustic-pop number which is made even better by the inclusion of a kid's choir providing backing vocals on the chorus.

I'm guessing that Universal's intention with this song is to give it a major push in Ireland, then once it catches on and becomes a hit (which is quite likely), use it as a springboard to allow Rainy Boy Sleep invade the airwaves of United Kingdom, then the rest of the world. And as far as we're concerned, "Ambulance" is the ideal track to get that particular ball rolling.

"Ambulance" is taken from Rainy Boy Sleep's upcoming album "Waiting Games".

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Poor Michael - Invisible Man

It's lovely to know that three years since The Metaphorical Boat first set sail, we are still happening upon previously uncharted waters. Today for example is the first time that a band from Maidenhead has featured on our pages. Whether that says something about our ignorance of the Berkshire music scene, or something about the amount music that can be found there we will leave up to your imagination. But for sure, the band in question, Poor Michael, are worth the wait.

The trio have played support to bands such as Girl Band and Skaters in the past, although are probably closer in sound to the former if their track "Invisible Man" is anything to go by, but only just. The track is dominated by a dark and sinister psychedelic guitar riff, yet the song still finds time for a quick excursions into noise-rock halfway through before returning to familiar territory. If Poor Michael can continue cranking out tunes like this, then a return visit to Maidenhead might be a bit sooner than three years.

The song is taken from the band's E.P "Poor Michael (2 of 3)", which is out now.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hentai Babies - Day One Daydream/Pop Is My Prozac

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since this blog wrote about Isle of Wight based duo Hentai Babiesthey of 27th best song of 2013, "One Potato Two", fame. Not that they've been quiet, mind, having released a slew of singles in the intervening 12 months and playing at Blissfields earlier this month. What prompted them to our attention again however is the band's latest artwork, which you can see above. Depicting the band in drawn in a chibi manga style (or super-deformed as it's sometimes referred to), it is several different types of wonderful. If they ever got it printed on a t-shirt, one would be very tempted to make a purchase.

They've been busy writing and recording a lot of new material recently, and to accompany their wonderful artwork, here's two of their best new songs. "Day One Daydream" is a punky little number that drives straight to the point, whilst "Pop Is My Prozac" is a poppier 90s alt-rock inspired tune, dominated by a discordant yet rather great guitar riff.

They surely must have enough material gathered by now to get an album on the go, and based on the singles they've released to date, it is bound to be a solid release. I'm guessing that they've already got their album cover sorted...

"Day One Daydream" and "Pop Is My Prozac" are available to download for free.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Waylayers - Take Hold

The last time we wrote about London band Waylayers last year, we said that the band sounded like Coldplay had gone all dance on us. Based on that, you might think that Chris Martin himself has been reading this blog, seeing as this his band went the way of four-to-the-floor with the release of "Sky Full Of Stars".

It perhaps in retaliation to that that Waylayers have distanced themselves from those comparisons on the release of their new single, "Take Hold". Gone are the heartfelt-techno vibes of  "S.O.S", instead to be replaced by something that could best be described as dark-disco. The song is filled with pulsating basslines and somewhat sinister backing vocals, whilst their vocals are much less Chris Martin-ish than they have been in the past.

We said last year that we wanted to hear something less indebted to other bands and more of the band's own sound, and it looks like with "Take Hold", Waylayers are on the right track.

"Take Hold" will be released on September 15th.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

The Metaphorical Boat is 3 years old today

Get out the party poppers, uncork the champagne, and get the oversized Batternberg ready, for today is a monumental occasion for your humble Captain, for today marks The Metaphorical Boat's third birthday. It's been an absolute pleasure writing about lots of wonderful music over the past few years, and I have personally enjoyed every minute of it.

A lot has happened for myself in the 12 months since this blog turned 2 years old. I was really humbled to be a member of the academy who helped to judge the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Prize (deservedly won by Foy Vance). I hope will come back even stronger when the next one is awarded later this year - it's great to see some of the talent we have here get some recognition.

In addition to this blog, I have also been honoured to write for some fantastic other websites for the first time in the past year -

  • I've interviewed two of my favourite artists, Public Service Broadcasting and Wonder Villains, for the brilliant local music website Chordblossom. The guys behind the website are genuinely some of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure to get to know, and the Northern Irish music scene is incredibly lucky to have such passionate people championing their music. They're not too bad at football either...
  • I've also been writing album reviews for one of the best UK music websites, Drowned In Sound. I have been an avid reader of the website for many, many years, and has probably influenced the development of my taste in music more than any other music publication, so being able to write for the website is a real honour. 
  • And last but not least, I've been a moderator and Fresh Faves reviewer for the wonderful Fresh On The Net. It was the shows that Tom Robinson hosts on BBC 6music championing new and under appreciated music that inspired me to set up this blog all those years ago, so it's an absolute pleasure to get involved with the website.
Here are some notable posts that have appeared on the blog since our last birthday - 

Bora York - Let Loose - the most popular blog post of the past 12 month.

Album Review: Kitsuné Maison 15 - the most read album review in the past 12 months.

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #19 - the most popular NI round-up of the past 12 months was this one from October last year.

Album Review: Wonder Villains - Rocky - An album I have been anticipating for many years, and goodness, did it deliver.

So it's been a great three years here for The Metaphorical Boat. However, for the first time since we've hit a yearly milestone, I am not sure whether we will still be afloat this time next year. The last year has also seen me make the transition from underemployed graduate to full-time work, which does take a chunk of time away from this blog. However, as I have said before, the moment this blog stops being something I love doing and instead feels like a chore, I will stop running it. For the time being, I have no intention of stopping any time soon, and I'm hardly the only blogger who juggles work with writing about wonderful music. However, as we all know, reality can be a cruel mistress. 

But that negativity can hold for another day, so let's end this on a positive note, like this music video of Wonder Villains getting to meet their hero, Gianfranco Zola - 

Thank you to everyone who's read this blog, and to all makers of fine, fine, music. If if weren't for all you guys, this blog would never have made it past the first week.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Blog Collective - Drunken Werewolf

Over the next few months, The Metaphorical Boat, alongside Drunken WerewolfThe VPME, The Blue Walrus & God Is In The TV, will be looking at some of the music that our fellow music bloggers have been raving about as part of the Blog Collective. Each month, we will be focusing on one of the music blogs in the Collective and picking out a few artists from said publication that we think you will enjoy.

This month is the turn of Drunken Werewolf. Edited by Tiffany Daniels, the blog has been running since 2005, during which time it has expanded from a one-person LiveJournal site into the sleek, multi-person, multi-faceted, respected website it has become today. It has also expanded beyond the website, with the monthly publication of a free digital magazine that offers a Bristol-centric outlook on music (although that doesn't mean that you have to be from Bristol to enjoy it - it's a cracking read, whether you're from Belfast, Baltimore or even Brittany).

With such a wide range of music being featured on the website, it's quite a task to highlight just five great discoveries from it, but in the end, these are the five which we've gone for -

Native Birds - Five Lanes of Traffic

Drunken Werewolf - It' if Kele from Bloc Party decided to go chill-wave, and really nailed it.

TMB - If you can get over the fact that their vocalist really does sound like Kele from Bloc Party, then you will fall instantly in love with these Londoners. "Five Lanes of Traffic" is such a lazy, hazy, dreamy, chilled out wonder of a track. It's surprising that they haven't maxed out the bandwidth of every blog in the country yet.

Ultimate Painting - Ultimate Painting

Drunken WerewolfUltimate Painting’s sound...(combines) West Coast rock with a lazy but nevertheless infectious guitar riff, inspired by the Drop City scene of 1965 America.

TMB - The band is a side project between members of Mazes and Veronica Falls, yet doesn't seem to sound much like either of them. It's a little bit like the Beach Boys without the overwhelming vocal harmonies.

COMPNY - Begging Me To Come Back

Drunken WerewolfIt's a song whose mournful vocals are at odds with fun music, and let's be honest, all the best songs are like that.

TMB - I don't know why the people behind COMPNY are choosing to remain anonymous. If I wrote a song s great as "Begging Me To Come Back", I would be shouting about it from the rooftops. A fantastic little moody pop number.

Shorts - Berlin 1971

Drunken Werewolf - Melbourne’s Mikael Caterer had just the right idea when he formed his new venture Shorts. Not simply about showing some skin, Caterer ensures that what he exposes has a decent bit of colour behind it.

TMB - "Berlin 1971" is almost everything you'd ever want in an dream-pop song - sumptuous harmonies, jangling guitars, and sounding like it could have conceivably been recorded in a tin can. Lovely, lovely stuff.

STÅL - Keep Moving

Drunken Werewolf - Danish band STÅL do little to prepare their audience for the humongous onslaught of pop charge they omit from their two pairs of hands.

TMB - "Keep Moving" is a funky little number, a great reminder that there's much, much more to Danish pop than Aqua.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

The Death of Pop - Mirage

Last month, this blog introduced Bournemouth jangle-gaze band The Death of Pop with their spectacular single, "Whenever". So taken was I with the song and the band that I instantly purchased the accompanying E.P, "Fifths", which wasn't due to be released for a few weeks yet. Well, yesterday the E.P arrived, which came in the form of a download code, a fanzine which features the lyrics and chord sequences of every song on the E.P (the former being very useful for music like this, where the vocals are usually buried 20 feet in the mix), and a physical copy of one of the E.P's tracks, "Mirage", in a very special format -

For the uninitiated, that's a Flexidisc, which is about the thickness of a piece of paper, with grooves that allows it to be played on a record player. The format was popular up until the 80s, as its size allowed it to be easily included as a giveaway in music magazines, before it fell out of favour as CDs, and later MP3s, took over. However, in recent years the format has started to reappear alongside the revival of vinyl, for reasons of not just nostalgia and novelty, but also economy (it is about three times cheaper to print a Flexidisc single than a comparable 7", "solid" vinyl). The one drawback of the format is that due to its slightly flimsy nature, the sound doesn't usually come out right, with a tendency to skip uncontrollably.

So, how does the Flexidisc of "Mirage" fare? There's only one way to find out -

Actually, there were several, but the option
 I went for was this one.

The good news is that the song managed to make it all the way to the end without skipping once. The even better news was that the sound quality was comparable with a standard, "solid" vinyl, with only a slightly more noticeable crackling sound.. If I hadn't bought the thing myself, I would never have known the difference. 

And the best news? The song on the Flexidisc by The Death of Pop, "Mirage", is a ruddy fine song indeed, very much reminiscent of the best shoegaze-y tunes that Ride ever recorded. You can listen to the song digitally below, but if you are able to, I very much recommend tracking down a copy that you can play on a record player, as the warmth and depth of the song is much better than in the stream. It's available to buy now from Art Is Hard Records, but given that it's a limited edition of 250, if you want to get it, you'd better be quick.

So, is Flexidisc the format of the future? It does have its limitations - music can only be pressed on one side of the disc, and although "Mirage" has held up well, other singles I've used on the format have been rather temperamental. Also, the use of the format could be seen as a gimmick which can detract from what should be the most important aspect - the music itself. 

However, it's a light and easy transportable product, and it is more affordable nature over "solid" 7" singles would make it handy for an artist on a budget to get their music onto record. Even so, we're probably not going to get an onslaught on artists releasing on the format in the foreseeable future, although if that did happen, I for one would not complain. 

Monday, 21 July 2014

TeamRKT - Cat Island

Portstewart based chiptune-pop duo TeamRKT continue to extend their reach to the stars above with the release of their new single, "Cat Island". Presumably taking its name from Tashirojima, an island in Japan with an usually large stray cat population, the song continues the band's pechant for mixing guitars with beats and electronics sourced from Gameboys to create something that is fun, easygoing, and somewhat euphoric.

To coincide with the single's release, the band have released a neko-tastic music video to accompany "Cat Island". The rather bonkers promo features the band's cat quitting its job to go on a globe trotting adventure, and is well worth checking out.

The "Cat Island" E.P will be released in August, with the single available to download now.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Andrew Montgomery - After The Storm

It has been a long time coming, but more than a decade after the wonderfully underrated Britpop band Geneva split, their frontman, Andrew Montgomery, will be releasing his first album under his own name. The album has been produced by Sean McGhee, and features guests such as Suede guitarist Richard Oakes amongst others.

Taken from the album is "After The Storm", a song that reminds us of why many of us fell in love with him in the first place - quite simply, there is no voice in music quite like his. It is equal parts beautiful, soulful and plaintive, a voice than can hit dizzy heights and mournful lows, and can touch at the very fabric of our being. Its piano and woodwind-led production might be rather different to the sounds of his rock days, but it just gives his voice the opportunity to shine through even more.

"After The Storm" is taken from the debut album of Andrew Montgomery, "Ruled By Dreams", which will be released on October 5th.

Photo is (c) Stuart Peck Photography.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #29

Despite summer normally being seen as a quiet month for new releases, it's good to see that there's quite a few new tunes coming out at this time. Here's a couple of new songs from Northern Ireland that should float your Metaphorical Boat this month - 
Sister Ghost - Scent

Last year, Derry band Vanilla Gloom picked up a lot of praise on the basis of their sole E.P "Lemons & Wine". Solid radio play, as well as festival appearances and a tour of Scotland followed, before the split up rather out of the blue just before Halloween. For all those who are still getting over their sudden demise, you'll be glad to hear that their former frontwoman Shannon O'Neill is back with a new project, Sister Ghost. She plays all the instruments on her debut single, "Scent", a song very much indebted to the grunge/alt-rock boom of the early 90s.

LORIS - Do It Right 

Following on from a well received debut single, "I've Been Quiet", Belfast electro-pop trio LORIS have just released their follow-up, "Do It Right". It's a sweet, yet somewhat ice-y gem.

Robocobra Quartet - Artbook Flipping

And now for something completely different. Robocobra Quartet are an experimental "chamber-punk" band who mix improvisational jazz with acoustic hip-hop to create a sound that is quite unique (although there is slight hints of Melt Yourself Down, not that I'm complaining mind) . Have a listen to their dual saxophone-led single "Artbook Flipping", and find yourself sucked in to their world.

Goodbye Nola - Testified 

Closing out our round-up this week are Goodbye Nola, a Belfast band that came to our attention this month after Ash frontman Tim Wheeler tweeted a link to their music, and we're not going to argue with the taste of the man who wrote "Kung Fu". "Testified" is taken from their first E.P, which is a rather nice, straightforward rock and roll tune.

Friday, 18 July 2014

CuT - Let's Go

This blog was first introduced London four-piece CuT last month after coming across their rather great spacey rock track "Time Traveller" through the Blog Collective. They've ridden the buzz of that track rather well, and are now releasing their follow up single, "Let's Go".

"Let's Go" is a more standardised version of the tried and tested poppy garage-rock sound, very much in the mould of The Vaccines and The Ramones (RIP Tommy). It's sharp, fun and straight to the point, which sometimes is all you ever need in a song. Plus, top marks for the well utilized yet underrated use of the humble handclaps.

"Let's Go" will be released on July 28th.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Slackers' Symphony - Episode in Denial

Cork born but Dublin based, "Episode in Denial" is the debut single from 5-piece electronic-inflected rockers Slackers' Symphony (who instantly get 10/10 for that gloriously demented band photo). The band's influences spread all the way from Pixies to Brian Wilson, by way of Talking Heads, although the band's somewhat rocky, yet slightly off-kilter sound probably bears more musical similarities to Manic Street Preachers than anyone else. It's a strong, yet powerful opening statement for the group, who may be worth keeping a beady eye on.

"Slackers' Symphony" is available to download now.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Southern - Where I Want To Be

As much as I enjoyed this year's Great Escape Festival, it doesn't mean that it didn't leave me disappointed. Before the festival, one of the bands that I really wanted to see was the Belfast duo Southern, whom this blog has followed more or less since its inception. However, when I went to Sticky Mike's Frog Bar to catch them, there was already a queue snaking around the block to get in, so alas, I went Southernless that weekend. Not that I should have been surprised, mind you. Their stars have been burning brightly recently since the release of their rather magnificent "Where The Wild Are" E.P, which has seen them pick up major radio play and earned them a slot at this year's Reading & Leeds Festival. Oh well, at least when they're playing to thousands I will be able to boast about seeing them perform in the upstairs of a back-alley pub to to no more than ten punters.

But back to the present, for the duo have just announced the release of their brand new single, "Where I Want To Be". The song follows on quite well from the lead track from their last E.P, with its bluesy yet muscular guitar riffs and intertwining vocals from the Southern siblings. There's shades of the Rolling Stones and "Riot City Blues"-era Primal Scream in there, and is a great demonstration of the band's heavy face (we're informed that the song's b-side, "The Way You Breathe", is a demonstration of the band's softer, croonier side, like "Oh Won't You Go" from the last E.P, but as that song has yet to be made public, we cannot confirm nor deny that this is indeed the case).

On a "thinking to myself out loud notes", one wonders whether the band will continue to record under the name Southern in the future. Even though they have built a profile for themselves, one can only imagine that their name might cause them problems in the future due to the chance of other artists using a similar name, or due to their name not being the easiest to Google (they're nowhere to be found when typing "southern" into the site, although admittedly they're the top search for "southern band"). If they were to change their name, I imagine The Southern Siblings could work, as it keeps the Southern part whilst rolling well off the tongue, although they would have some unfortunate abbreviation if they did. Or maybe they don't need to change anything, what do I know? They've done this well without needing to change much.

"Where I Want To Be" will be released on August 18th.

101 Sun Festival (plus Polock - Everlasting)

As you've probably noticed, The Metaphorical Boat has been somewhat silent for the past few weeks. Don't worry, we're not closing our doors (not that you're concerned about that), it's just that your humble captain needs to take a break from everything every now and again. This is why I've just returned after a week in sunny Malaga. Although true to form, I just couldn't tear myself away from the music.

On Friday, I attended the 101 Sun Festival, which was held in an athletic stadium in Malaga in the sweltering heat (it was still about 20 degrees by 11pm - if it even reached that temperature during the day back home I'd be really shocked). The headliners were Franz Ferdinand, who once again reminded me why they're one of my favourite bands to see live - great energy, great engagement with the crowd (despite the fact that 99% of the crowd were Spanish and the only Spanish Alex Kapranos spoke was "muchas gracias"), and of course, one of the most indestructible sets of indie-rock songs of the past 10 years. Quite honestly, you have not experienced a gig until you have seen the band perform "Outsiders" live, complete with the four person drum breakdown.

But it wasn't just FF on the bill (although they were the headline act and the biggest crowd pleaser), for there were other acts playing, the majority of which were new to me. That day also played host to a band who were the Spanish equivalent of Teenage Fanclub (La Cena), the Spanish equivalent of the Stereophonics (L.A), what appeared to be the Spanish equivalent of Bruce Springsteen (Lori Meyers, who was incredibly popular despite being new to me. Everyone in the crowd was singing along to every song. Quite well), a UK band who were tipped as the saviours of rock and roll back in 2012, weren't, but still inexplicitly find themselves booked for high slots at European festivals (Spector, who I do like on record, but fell very short on the day), and a not very good band named after a song by New Order (Triángulo de Amor Bizarro).

But the one band new to me that really blew me away was Polock, an indie-pop quintet from Valencia. It might seem a bit of a lazy comparison, but they really were like a Spanish version of Phoenix. They had some great songs (all of which were sung in English), a great stage presence, plus the people I was with had a great laugh at their drummer, who they claimed was like a long haired version of Colin Farrell. I'm not too sure how popular they are outside of Spain, although apparently they were a Single of the Week on iTunes in the US, but at the festival, they were very much beloved by the thousands of people who came to see them.

Have a listen to their most recent single "Everlasting", taken from their 2nd album "Rising Up". It's the kind of Hot Chip goes rock song that one thinks would go down very well.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Adebisi Shank - Big Unit

It feels a bit redundant taking the time to write about the following song, given that the above cover image tells you exactly what it's sounds like, without you needing to read a single word. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try.

To date, Wexford instrumental trio Adebisi Shank have two well respected albums to their name. With a third just around the corner, they have released the first single to be culled from it, the triumphant sounding "Big Unit", which is as epic as epic can get. How epic is epic? It is as epic as beating Mount Etna in a Queensbury Rules boxing bout. It is as epic as swimming to the bottom of Challenger Deep with just a snorkel, then having a picnic when you get there. It is as epic as riding a Great White Shark on the planet Neptune, having already trained said shark to hum the theme tune for Knight Rider. That is to say, it's a ruddy epic song indeed.

"Big Unit" is taken from the album "This is the Third Album of a band Called Adebisi Shank", which is released on August 12th.