Monday 27 February 2012

Free Swim - The Smell of Pregnancy

Every now and again, I come across a song so off-kilter, so off the wall and so bizarre, that by actually admitting that I enjoy it I begin to question my own sanity. But then again, it's not often that you enter the world of Paul Coltofeanu, who records under the name of Free Swim.

"The Smell of Pregnancy", the highlight of his most recent E.P "Dennis", best examplifies the project's self-described "b***ard-pop stylings. You'll be hard pressed to find another song this year that extolls the virtues of Hornblower, Jason Statham and Vienetta ice-cream in less than five minutes, as well as containing a bizarre Viv Stanshall-esque monologue on the loneliness of going to a National Trust property.

Whilst the odd lyrical content of the song is worth celebrating on its own, what makes the song stand out is that musically speaking, it is near faultless. The song contains one of the most badass guitar riffs I've heard for a long time, as well as ending with enough funky slap bass work to make Les Claypool green with envy. Free Swim is very much a one off artist - in the sense that there isn't any other artist who could do what it does with such aplomb.

Free Swim's E.P "Dennis" is avilable as a free download.

Saturday 25 February 2012

Athletes In Paris - Echoes Louder than Voices

Newcastle based 5-piece Athletes In Paris are no strangers to this blog. Following the slight u-turn on their last single "No Bridge, No Crossing Allowed", the group return to their indie sound for their next single, "Echoes Louder than Voices." The song has a slight whiff of mainstream rock about it, with the song containing slight nods to The Killers and Kings of Leon to it (especially the 'oh aye ohs' in the chorus). However, the band still contains all those elements that made the group stand out in the first place, not least the band's trademark Geordie accent.

"Echoes Louder than Voices" will be released on March 19th. 

Thursday 23 February 2012

The Wonder Villains - Ferrari (Live at Queen's Radio)

Derry based quartet The Wonder Villains have been going from strength to strength since the last time I mentioned them on the blog. Their last single, "Zola", was playlisted on National Radio 1 (and even entered the iTunes chart for a brief period), they have found themselves championed by Steve Lamacq, and following the release of their latest single "Ferrari", a re-recording of a track they first released for a compilation CD back in 2010, the band have found themselves being featured on such illustrious blogs such as Breaking More Waves and The Von Pip Musical Express.

This evening, the band are gearing up for the biggest local gig to date, playing at The Speakeasy bar to launch theie latest single. Ahead of the gig, they guys came into Queen's Radio to record a stripped back version of "Ferrari", featuring just vocal, guitar and keyboard, which is very much a thing of pop magic. You can hear this fantastic interpretation of the song below:

And here's the single version, which is out to download now:

The Wonder Villains will be launching "Ferrari" in The Speakeasy Bar in The Queen's University Student's Union from 9PM this evening (Thursday 23rd), supported by Pretty Child Backfire & Purile Honey. Admission is free.

Crow Black Chicken - Murmuration

How do you like your blues-rock served? Polished like a 24 carat diamond? More easy going than a Dutch McDonald's worker? Or do you prefer it scuzzy, hard hitting and raucous? If it's the latter, then hard working Irish trio Crow Black Chicken are right up your metaphorical street. 

For a band that have over 100 gigs in the past year, including a prestigious slot at BBC Introducing stage at the Glastonbury Festival, it could be quite difficult to cross it over to a studio setting. Thankfully on "Murmuration", their latest single, the band have nailed it rather well, with the powerful, whiskey-soaked vocals and scuzzy blues guitar work of Christy O'Hanlon really shining through. It's an exciting single, as if someone's managed to bottle a hurricane.

"Murmuration" is available as a free download, and will feature on Crow Black Chicken's debut album, due out in May.

Monday 20 February 2012

Joywave - True Grit

After doing the music blogging thingy for a while, there is always the risk of unhealthy sense of lethargy setting in. When you spend all your time searching the web, the local scene and your inbox for the latest fantastic artist to blog about, it can feel that sometimes it can start to become something you feel you have to do, rather than something you want to do. I've always said to myself that when updating the blog starts to feel more like a chore rather than helping to spread the word about artist's I'm truly passionate about, then that's the time to bring the blog to it's conclusion. But anyway, you're not reading this blog to read my quarter-life crisis (and if you are, then you really need to get out more), you're reading this to find out about the latest great artist that makes this venture worthwhile, a group that floats my Metaphorical Boat

Hailing from Rochester, New York, Joywave make smart, accessable synth-pop with a heart of gold. "True Grit", the first track taken from their debut E.P, calls to mind "Saturdays=Youth" era M83, yet adds a layer of sophistication courtesy of some charming orchestral hits, as well as with the enrapturing vocals of Daniel Armbruster. This is enjoyable music indeed.

"True Grit" is taken from the band's debut E.P "Koda Vista", which will be released in March, and is available as a free download.

Thursday 16 February 2012

The Diamond Noise - Never Say Never Say Never

I've always had a pechant for "short sharp shock" music - that is songs that are economical with their running times, whilst still remaining in-your-face and brimming with exciting, primal energy. Elastica's debut album remains the most consistant example of this sort of music, and individual efforts from The White Stripes (Fell In Love With a Girl, Hypnotize) and The Vaccines (Norgaard, Wreckin' Bar (Ra Ra Ra)) remain amongst their strongest sounds.

Which leads us on to London based quartet The Diamond Noise. Their debut single, the Greg Haver produced "Never Say Never Say Never", which in its sub-150 second timeframe more than delivers in the 3 s's. The song mixes the primal garage-punk that made people sit up and take notice of The Vaccines with the vocal stylings of The Hives (with the occasional Jack White inflection thrown in for good measure). If The Diamond Noise can continue with their short sharp shocks, then I expect we'll be seeing a great deal from these guys in the future.

"Never Say Never Say Never" will be released on 2nd April.

The Super Happy Fun Club - Way Back (The Conflict)

To celebrate Valentines Day, Chicago based rockers The Super Happy Fun Club (who get top marks for that name, incidentally) are offering a track from their upcoming 2nd album for free. But depite it's target date, don't be tricked into thinking that this is some soppy, sentimental drivel.

"Way Back (The Conflict)" is the sort of tune that MTV2 would've lapped up in the early 00s. Falling somewhere between Scouting For Girls and 30 Seconds to Mars (wait, come back), it's an angst-y rock track filled with gang vocals and heavy guitars.

Sunday 12 February 2012

A Plastic Rose - Build From The Ground Up

After such a long wait, it looks like 2012 is going to be the year that Belfast stalwarts A Plastic Rose finally release their debut album. It couldn't have come at a better time, with the band riding a new wave of hype after supporting Snow Patrol in London and at their record breaking Odyssey gig

In anticipation of the album, the band are releasing a new single next month. "Build From the Ground Up" is a mature, string-laden heavy alt-rock track that seems ready-made for arena anthemics. If you hadn't already taken notice of A Plastic Rose before now, then this promises to be the track that makes you sit up and pay attnetion.

"Build From the Ground Up" will be released on March 16th, and will feature on the band's debut album "Camera.Shutter.Life", which is due for release in the summer.

Parchutes Over Paris - Evolution of the Species

Belfast based sextet Parachutes Over Paris are shaping up to be one of the more exciting new bands to break through in NI in 2012. After spending a year honing their craft live, the group have just released their debut E.P "The Gultiness of Youth", from which "Evolution of the Species" is taken from.

"Evolution of the Species" is an exciting piece of indie-rock, with the synth and guitar lines working in tandem with each other to create something rather memorable. It's toe-tapping sensibility brings about obvious comparisons with Two Door Cinema Club, although the great lyrical depth sets them apart from them. Even more excitingly, when the band play this song live, there is ample use of cowbell, and we all know that the key to musical greatness is more cowbell (well, at least if you're a fan of THAT Saturday Night Live skit).

"The Guiltiness of Youth E.P" is available as a free download for a limited period.

Wednesday 8 February 2012

In Their Thousands - Tear It All Apart

Formed in Donegal in May of last year, In Their Thousands take the folk-rock template and take it to interesting new depths. "Tear it All Apart" starts delicately enough, with it's glockenspiel/acoustic guitar intro and harmony vocals. However, as the track progresses, it begins to get more heavy, with the mantra "you can tear it all apart" developing different meanings as the song progresses.

"Tears it All Apart" is taken from the band's debut release "E.P 1", which is out now.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Averkiou - Fuzzy Photograph

Making noise is easy, anyone can do it. What is trickier is taming the noise and then putting a leash on it. Which is exactly what Florida quintet Averkiou do on their latest track "Fuzzy Photograph."

"Fuzzy Photograph", with its scuzzy guitars, which mix with tender vocal harmonies to make off-kilter pop tunes, calls to mind Teenage Fanclub during their "Thirteen" era. It's quite a noisy track, but it is kept under control in such as way that it doesn't feel unharmious. It's a great introduction to a band that I will be keeping my eye on in the future.

"Fuzzy Photograph" is the first track from Averkiou's "New Imperative E.P", which will be released on February 10th.

Monday 6 February 2012

This Many Boyfriends - Starling

Leeds based funpop band This Many Boyfriends have announced the release of their new single "Starlings", which is their first release since last autumn's "Young Lovers Go Pop!", and their first release since the death of their guitarist Peter Sykes.

"Starling" sees TMB continue their penchant for writing short, snappy, indie-pop tunes with lots of heart and just as many hooks. Built around an infectious guitar hook, the song is about loving birds, as well as being in love with a bird, which sees the song working on more levels than one. It's a great, fun single, and hopefully will see the band gain a few new followers.

"Starling" by This Many Boyfriends will be released with a fanzine made by the band themselves, which will be released on February 20th. The band will be touring the UK at the end of February/beginning of March with both Allo' Darlin and The Cribs (no dates on this side of the pond just yet, but fingers crossed).

Silhouette - Can't Keep Up

One of the interesting signs of the strength of the music scene in Northern Ireland is to observe how often music from the province is used in its adverts. In the past year, we've seen music from the Lowly Knights used to sell electricity, whilst Cashier No.9's "When Jackie Shone" was used as the soundtrack for a Belfast tourism video.

Now the Northern Ireland Tourist Board has released an advertisement that it hopes will get the masses flocking into the area, and the song they have chose to soundtrack it comes from Shauna Tohill, who performs under the pseudonym Silhouette

Ms Tohill has already begun to make a name for herself as bassist for blog favourite Rams' Pocket Radio, as well as performing live on stage with Snow Patrol as Gary Lightbody's female counterpart on "Set the Fire to the Third Bar", but she is also a great performer in her own right. "Can't Keep Up" is an energetic piece of dance-rock which calls to mind The Gossip. Shauna Tohill is in full-on diva mode throughout the song, with the strength of her vocals carrying the song through.

The NITB made a wise decision when they chose Silhouette to soundtrack their ni2012 advert. It's been many years (if at all) since this area has produced so much fantastic local music, and  "Can't Keep Up" is a sterling reminder of that.

"Can't Keep Up" is available to download from Silhouette's Bandcamp page, and the advert it features in can be seen here.

Saturday 4 February 2012

Freedom Fry - Earthquake

On the latest single by US/French duo Freedom Fry, "Earthquake",  the duo seem to be channelling something of a Metronomy vibe. It mixes shuffling organ/keyboard lines with Marie Seyrat's breathy vocals, and even manages to fit in a rather suave guitar solo for good measure. This is laidback lounge at its finest.
"Earthquake" will be released on February 14th on Caveman Arts Society. A music video, which sees Marie build her bandmate Bruce with jigsaw pieces, can be viewed below:

Rainy Boy Sleep - Shopping Centre Song

I don't know what it is about the city of Derry at the moment, but at the moment it can do no wrong in producing fine new musical talent. I'n the past few months I've already written about such talents as The Jepettos, Best Boy Grip, Our Krypton Son and The Wonder Villains.

One artist from the city who is already causing a few ripples is Stevie Martin, who is better known to his fans and followers as Rainy Boy Sleep. To coincide with his support slot with James Morrison, he has released his first E.P on Hidden Art, entitled "Shopping Centre Song". The title track is a tender one, combining beatbox percussion with heartfelt lyrics, as Mr Martin advices his love not to "let the road lead you way."

"Shopping Centre Song E.P" by Rainy Boy Sleep is avaiable to download now, whilst the video (which is not set in a shopping centre, strangely enough) can be viewed here:

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Rams' Pocket Radio - 1+2

Things have been going rather swimmingly recently for Peter McCauley & company in the Rams' Pocket Radio camp. They were playlisted on BBC Radio 1 (although oddly enough it wasn't with their current single at the time, "Dogs Run in Packs"), they supported Snow Patrol during one of their sell-out performances in Belfast's Odyssey Arena, and have a tour of the United Kingdom scheduled for February which already has several sold-out dates. Now they are gearing up to release their latest single, "1+2", which combines all the elements that make them so attractive in the first place - massive piano hooks, anthemic production and the empassioned vocals of Peter McCauley. With a bit of luck, this will hopefully be the song that pushes them over the hill into the mainstream consciousness.

"1+2" will be released on March 19th.

Public Service Broadcasting - Roygbiv

Public Service Broadcasting, the brainchild of the wonderfully named J. Wilgoose, Esq, seem to be a project that wears its influences clearly on it's sleeves. It might seem rather obvious to make comparisons to Boards of Canada, giving their pechant for sampling old public information films, and the fact that they've given their latest single a title which matches the name of BOC's most famous song, "Roygbiv."

However, there is much to seperate the two, for whilst Boards of Canada gains warmth through synthetic means, the warmth that permeates throughout Public Service Broadcasting feels organic in nature. With the samples n' synths mixing with guitars and the banjo, "Roygbiv" is a song which is filled with colour, which is rather apt, as the title is an acrostic for the colours of the rainbow.

"Roygbiv" will be released on March 4th.