Friday 29 June 2012

Snøskred - We Are

Taking their name for the Norwegian word for avalanche, Trondheim based five-piece Snøskred  make a sound that could possibly be best described as a wonderful cacophony of noise. On their new single, "We Are", the band mix heavily distorted guitar riffs with dreamy vocal hooks contributed by all the members of the group. It's an enjoyable wall-of-sound in the My Bloody Valentine mold. 

"We Are" is out now on 7" vinyl on Riot Factory.

Thursday 28 June 2012

The Rubbish Zoo - I Don't Know Where I Go

I thought the zoo we went to had far too many tiny Chinese dogs. It was a rubbish zoo! 

Whoops, messed up the punchline there.

But anyway, The Rubbish Zoo are a five piece band born in Wyoming but based in California, and are a band that seem to have a complete ball recording their music if "I Don't Know Where I Go" is anything to go by. The track has a rather upbeat feel to it with a Vampire Weekend/Givers kind of vibe. 

The track mixes these with close harmony vocals, incredibly strong pop hooks and some interesting keyboard sounds that sound like they should be featured on a cheesy 80s anthem and the soundtrack to Crash Bandicoot simultaneously. It's one of the most interesting songs I've heard so far this year, and perhaps one of the more fun tracks as well. 

"I Don't Know Where I Go" is taken from the band's 2nd E.P, "The Rubbish Zoo", which is out now. 

Coastal Cities - Relief

Wycombe based quintet Coastal Cities might have just only finished school, but they already have a great set of tunes under their belt. Their next single, "Relief", is a great piece of New Wave inspired guitar pop, which is stylish without losing any substance.

"Relief" will be released as a single on July 30th. It is currently available from the band's Facebook page as a free download.

Sunday 24 June 2012

Twangy Twangy - Motorboy

Twangy Twangy, the pseudonym of Dai Ogasawara, mixes two of my favourite musical things at the moment: music from Japan, and rollicking good indie-pop.

Their latest song, "Motorboy", is a short burst of manic youthful energy that calls to mind the distorted pop of Jesus & Mary Chain or The Pastels

"Motorboy" will be available as a free download on Sea Indie in the near future.

Saturday 23 June 2012

Tigercats - Harper Lee

London indie-poppers Tigercats let out one the most unexpectedly strong albums in 2012 when they released the monstrously fun "Isle of Dogs" earlier this year. Following April's "Full Moon Reggae Party", the band are gearing up to release the 2nd single from the album.

"Harper Lee", named after the writer of the insightful novel To Kill a Mockingbird is another dizzy slice of innocent guitar-pop from the group. A rather strange music video, directed by Hefner's Darren Hayman, has been released to promote the single.

"Harper Lee" will be released a double A-side vinyl single along with new track, "Cats Run Free" on July 21st.

Friday 22 June 2012

I Am Not Lefthanded - Screamager

Over the past two years, there has been a trend for taking indie/alternative rock songs and covering them for advertisements in a sincere piano/female vocal style. It all started when Taken By Trees covered "Sweet Child O'Mine" for a John Lewis advert, and since then we've seen The Calling, The Pixies and even The Smiths being used in such a way. Birdy has made a career out of it. Earlier this year, I joked that someone should take Therapy?'s "Screamager" and do a straight forward piano cover of the song. After all, how much emotion can be wrung out of the phrase "I've got nothing to do, but hang around and get screwed up on you?"

Well, it turns out that the gods of mischief went and enlisted Irish/UK trio I Am Not Lefthanded to go ahead and do just that. The cover removes the ubiquitous guitar riff that the song was built around and replaces it instead with exquisite strings. It's a brave cover version, and one that head and shoulders above most of the other piano/vocal covers of rock hits. I'm willing to wager £10 that it will be used in a high-profile advertisement campaign by the end of the year though.

"Screamager" is taken from the band's fan-funded debut album, "The Fire & the Sigh", which is out now.

Les Bicyclettes De Belsize - Beatnik My Guest

Reading the biography of Les Bicyclettes De Belsize, it is hard to work out how much of it is genuine and how much is made-up whimsy. Apparently the band came about after lead single Charlie Darling "crashed his bike into a billboard poster of Peter Cook's wife." Weirder things have happened, I suppose.

Regardless of their biographical liberties, their track "Beaknik My Guest" is a wonderful slice of dreamy indie-pop, with gorgeous string melodies, and intelligent lyrics, which name check such luminaries as Jean-Paul Sartre and Jack Kerouac. It's a wonderful chamber-pop song, like The Divine Comedy sans the sarcasm.

"Beatnik My Guest" is available as a free download, and is taken from the group's album "The Ballad of Charlie Darling."

A hat-tip to the wonderful Fresh On the Net for alerting me to this great track.

Thursday 21 June 2012

Ireland Tunes - Round-up #3

Here's a couple of tunes from the island that have been floating The Metaphorical Boat recently.

The Emerald Armada - Strangers

The Belfast folk quintet The Emerald Armada have marked themselves out as one of the most promising acts to come out of Northern Ireland in recent months off the back of several energetic and well-received live gigs, culminating in a sold-out launch of their debut E.P last week. The strongest track from the E.P is "Strangers", with sing-along lyrics and incredibly engaging guitar licks.


We Are Mr.West - Neighbourhood Watch

Typical. You wait for ages for one great piano-pop artist to come out of Derry, then two emerge from the same family. Dominic O'Callaghan, who performs under the name We Are Mr.West, is the brother of Eoin, who fronts blog favourite Best Boy Grip. His latest release, "Neighbourhood Watch", showcases the project's pechant for lovelorn piano music. Their sound is still a little rough around the edges, but there is heaps of potential to be found, especially when he embraces the sillier side of music (check out the delightfully playful "Sheep in Wolves Clothing").   ----------------------------------

Cfit - Triage

Dublin based sextet Cfit have made their latest single "Triage", which they launched at The Grand Social in the city last week, available as a free download. It's a rollicking good heavy indie-rock tune that calls to mind the sonic experimentation of Bloc Party's "Intimacy" album.

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Album Review: Shonen Knife - Pop Tune


Thirty years into their career, Japanese premier female pop-punk trio Shonen Knife are showing no signs of slowing down. Their last studio album of original material, 2010’s “Free Time” (which was belatedly released in the UK in 2011), has been one of the best received of their career, with extensive play on BBC 6music and a well-received UK tour, which included their first ever gig in Belfast.

2012 sees the release of the band’s 18th studio album, “Pop Tune.” A rather self-knowing title, given that all but one of the tracks clock in below the 4 minute mark.

In some ways, the album treads different ground to its predecessor “Free Time”. There is a slightly more serious tone to the album this time around. Songs like the mid-tempo Britpop sounding “Sunshine” (which features bassist Ritsuko on lead vocals) and the album closer “Move On” seem to showcase a more mature side to the band, with the overall production feeling a little less polished in comparison to its predecessor.

Furthermore, while a large amount of songs in Shonen Knife’s back catalogue are based around food or cute animals (a fact that singer/guitarist Naoko has acknowledged on many occasions), only one track on the album deals with one of these topics, “All You Can Eat”. The track is a gloriously daft one, one which mixes wonderfully irreverent lyrics (sample: “when you go to an all you can eat, don’t forget to take some vegetables”) and a kazoo solo for good measure.

However, the album still has the familiar fingerprints of Shonen Knife all over it. The album’s title track is one of poppiest songs released this year, with life affirming lyrics (“since you’re already here, think of happy things), and wonderful harmony vocals. The short bursts of opening track “Welcome To The Rock Club” and the Kiss pastiche “Osaka Rock City” serve as a reminder as to why the band are often called the Osaka Ramones.

“Pop Tune” is a great album from a band that is very much a one-of-a-kind act. While there are a few more mellow moments to the album than one would expect from Shonen Knife, on the whole it is a fantastically bonkers, energetic, and above all, fun album from the Japanese trio.

Released: 25th June 2012

Highlights: "Pop Tune", "All You Can Eat", "Sunshine".

Thursday 14 June 2012

General Fiasco - Bad Habits

Following the great reception to their recent singles "The Age You Start Losing Friends" and "Don't You Ever", Belfast band General Fiasco are gearing up to release their sophomore album, which is their first for Dirty Hit Records (home of Little Comets) and their first full-length with former Panama Kings guitarist Stuart Bell augmenting their line-up.

The final single to be released before the album comes out is "Bad Habits", which is their most mature, and possibly strongest song to date. Filled with the massive guitar lines that have become a trademark for the band, with a sense of melancholy hidden behind its soaring power.

"Bad Habits" is taken from General Fiasco's 2nd studio album "Unfaithfully Yours", which is released on July 30th on Dirty Hit Records.

Keston Cobblers' Club - For Words

When I first heard about Kent based group Keston Cobblers' Club, I was curious as to what their genre, 'fuzzfolk', actually consist of. I initially imagined a group of men with shaggy beards singing songs about apples with the distortion on their guitars turned up to 10. How wrong I was.

Their latest single "For Words", which is available as a free download, is a cute, bordering-on-twee song that contains all the vital ingredients of a folk band (including the trusty banjo), yet does not sound like your typical folk band. Its sumptuous use of boy/girl vocals and its expansive sound call to mind an earthier version of Tuung.

Keston Cobblers' Club will release their debut album, "One, For Words" on 27th August.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Lucy Rose - Lines

There seems to be a universal rule that if one mentions the wonderful singer/songwriter Lucy Rose, then one must also mention the rather popular indie-rock group that she has supported and occasionally supplies vocals for (a rule that admittedly, I am as likely to adhere to as anyone else). However, there have been two things that have happened recently that give me the feeling that she has just what it takes to step out of their shadow and make a name for herself on her own terms.

Firstly, I had the absolute pleasure of watching her headline in The Black Box in Belfast on Thursday evening. In this intimate venue, the wonder of her songs really shone through. It was an interesting set-up, as she was sitting on a set on a raised podium (which she called her "spaceship"), which in theory, should have allowed the pint sized singer to see the audience whilst sitting down. 

However, the Belfast crowd decided that sitting on the floor throughout the set would be the appropriate listening environment, leading to a strange situation where Lucy Rose towered over the audience, as if she were queen and us her loyal subjects. However, given the ecstatic response to her set from the crowd, might not be far from the truth. She is an absolutely wonderful performer, and if you get the chance to see her in an intimate venue make sure you go for it, for she might not be playing in that setting for much longer. Be sure to pick up her homemade jam and tea that she sells at her gigs as well. It's a rather nice treat.

Lucy Rose has also released the video for her upcoming single, "Lines", which will feature on her debut album, released on September 24th. It's an odd, yet endearing beast, with it's shifting drum rhythms, highly textured production, and the incredibly sensual vocals of Ms Rose herself. 

"Lines" will be released on July 22nd.


Tuesday 5 June 2012

Ireland Tunes - A Round-up

There's been quite a few great tunes coming from the island of Ireland at the moment. Here are a few that are currently floating The Metaphorical Boat.

The Spook of the Thirteenth Lock - The Brutal Here and Now (Part 1)

Remember that song "Atlas" by Battles that seemed to excite every alternative music fan a few years back? Have you had sleepless nights thinking to yourself: "It's a great track. But what would it sound like if it was Irish, sung in a reasonable voice in a psychedelic-folk style?" Well fret no more, thanks to Dublin band The Spooks of the Thirteenth Lock (not to be confused with the equally brilliant Spooks of Bottle Bay). "The Brutal Here and Now (Part 1)" is a fantastic, slow building song that mixes both style and substance in equal measure. It's the lead song from their 2nd album "The Brutal Here and Now".


Hunk! - I Want to Be Brave

Dublin band Hunk! are so new that they haven't got around to playing a full gig yet, although that will be remedied soon, as they are supporting Dogwillhunt in Queens Students Union on Friday 8th June. If you can get past the band's ridiculous name, you will find some lovely, Black Tambourine-esque lo-fi shoegaze on "I Want to Be Brave". It's a seriously good tune, which is strange for such an unserious band (one of their members goes by the name Sunny D)

Gascan Ruckus - Pieces

It's funny how far some music can travel. During my year-long stay in Hastings, Nebraska, I came across a group called Gascan Ruckus, after the college's librarian mentioned that she was a fan of the group. To my surprise, I found out that the band were from my neck of the woods, relatively speaking. It turns out that the year before me, a relative of the band had stayed at the same college as I did, and had spread the word about the band. So Gascan Ruckus, if you're ever looking to tour America, you might consider playing a set in the picturesque setting of Hastings, Nebraska. If you can continue to produce all-out rock stompers like latest single "Pieces", then it's bound to go down very well.


Katie & The Carnival - Dinosaurs 

Kooky Katie Richardson and her ever rotating Carnival are releasing "Dinosaurs" on June 18th. It's a charming song from a woman looking to add a little bit of theatricality to music, something which she seems to have succeeded in. They seem to be cropping up in some strange places recently, including an ice-cream advert and the Belfast edition on Come Dine With Me.

Monday 4 June 2012

A Dark Horse - Take Me Home

Is it really less than a week until this year's European Football Championship begins? Apparently so, which means that across Europe everyone is lining up to support their chosen country (or countries) in the competition. And it's not just the football world that gets into it, the music world also tends to go a bit crazy at this time of year too.

Which brings us to Irish duo Hugh Rogers and James Parker, who record under the name A Dark Horse. Although it is not really a football song, the video for the "Take Me Home" is themed around the World Cup of Italia '90, showing the duo as kids celebrating the Republic of Ireland's progress in that year's tournament. The song itself is a rather charmingly folksy ode to years gone by.

"Take Me Home" is taken from the E.P of the same name, which will be released in July. 

Saturday 2 June 2012

Silhouette - Running Against the Wall

Things have been going rather swimmingly for Shauna Tohill, aka Silhouette, in recent months. If you have seen Snow Patrol live in recent months, there is a good chance that you have seen Shauna Tohill perform the female vocals on "Set the Fire to the Third Bar." As well as that, her last single, "Can't Keep Up", has become ubiquitous on NI TV due to its overwhelming exposure in a tourist advert for the province. 

Now that her profile has been raised substantially, she has released her latest single, which was launched last Thursday during Radar at The Speakeasy, Belfast (which incidentally, I reviewed for BBC's Across the Line. You can see that review here)."Running Against the Wall" is a powerful piece of grown-up pop music that is guaranteed to hold you by the unmentionables until you submit to its pure force. Shauna plays all the instruments on the record with the exception of drums, which are handled by her Rams' Pocket Radio band mate Peter McCauley. 

"Running Against the Wall" is out now as both a download and CD Single, with "Little Voices" as a b-side.