Thursday 29 November 2012

The Metaphorical Boat's Tips for 2013 - Northern Ireland

It's that time of the year again where it's time to look into the blog's crystal ball to see which artists I am tipping for big things in 2013. As is customary for The Metaphorical Boat, the tips will be split into two different parts - the first five artists will be from my home turf, Northern Ireland, whilst the five in the second part will be from the rest of the world.

And we begin with:

1. Wonder Villains

It does feel like a cheat to include an artist on this list who featured last year, but in the case of Derry group Wonder Villains, I feel that it is richly deserved. Throughout 2012, the group have continued to impress with their incredibly fun, popular culture infused pop music. They have released two wonderful E.Ps this year. "Ferrari" and "TV", which have seen them gain heavy airplay on BBC 6music and Radio 1. They have made several television appearances, including performing on RTE's Late Late Show. On top of this, they have come into their own as a live act. I have had the pleasure of seeing them live four times in the past 12 months, and every time I've seen them I have came away with a massive grin on my face.

Next year will see the release of their long awaiting debut album "Rocky", a release that should establish the group firmly as Europe's most fun pop group, albeit one who are unmistakable from our wee province. After all, how many bands do you know that dress up as the Harland and Wolff Shipyard for Halloween?


In all my time obsessing over local music, I haven't seen an artist that have been so beloved by Northern Irish broadcasters from all sides of the spectrum than 16-year-old Derry singer/songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, who records under the name SOAK. Having been unknown at the start of the year, she's received support from Across The Line,  Electric Mainline through to Stuart Baillie and even mid-morning legend Gerry Anderson himself in 2012. I don't think I've ever seen such fervor for one artist from our neck of the woods, but in SOAK's case, the attention has been very much deserved.

The music of SOAK is like the echoes of a soul, something both deeply personal and vulnerable yet engaging at the same time, with wonderful songs like "Sea Creatures" and the Radio 1 playlisted "Fingers Crossed" showing off her emotive sound. I think that she's got a lot of room to grow as a songwriter, but in terms of raw talent, there's very few artist of her age who can match her. With continued national radio support, as well as an upcoming support slot for Snow Patrol, 2013 is going to be a glorious year for Bridie.

3. Rainy Boy Sleep

And our final Derry based tip is Stevie Martin, who records under the name Rainy Boy Sleep. 2012 has been a good year for the artist, having been on tour with both James Morrison and Ray Davies. He also released the fantastic "Shopping Centre Song" EP, which combines his earnest singer/songwriter sound with  interesting production techniques, to critical acclaim. He even found time to out in a guest appearances with fellow county dwellers Ruairi & The Owls.

With his debut album "Vantage Points" penciled in for release early next year, 2013 looks likely to be just as promising for Rainy Boy Sleep.

4. Eatenbybears

The best way to really make an impact on the local scene is to ensure that you sound nothing like other bands in your city. This is why Belfast based shifty-pop group Eatenbybears have really shone through in 2012. Having already introduced their signature mixture of unusual rhythms, loud guitars, keyboard noodling and occasional fiddle breakdowns in 2011, the band furthered their sound with two solid singles - the summery bounce of "Simple As Hell" and the darker, more introverted "Your Pet Is Dead." If the group can keep up this onslaught of effective material, then 2013 will well and truly be their year.

5. Amateur Historians

And concluding these NI centric tips is Belfast based alt-rock poppers Amateur Historians. The group first grabbed me with the short, sharp "These Cities Are Stealing My Soul", a song that instantly brought up comparisons to Ash. The subsequent release of their debut E.P "New Homes/New Hopes" helped to showcase an added depth to their sound. With a few new tracks in the pipeline for next year, it will be interesting to see if the group can keep up this spiky energy in 2013.

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