Friday, 10 May 2013

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-Up #15

The past few weeks have been emotional for music lovers in Belfast, as one of the key venues in the city, Auntie Annies, closed its doors. The venue has played host to many great touring musicians in its lifetime. Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling & Frank Turner played at the venue during their formative years of touring. But most importantly, the venue has played host to hundreds of local gigs and events over the years, mainly due to its central location just between Belfast city centre and Queen's University and its relative cheap rental price (on many occasions it was possible to rent the room gratis). It's closure will leave a hole in the local scene, as there isn't really a comparable venue in Belfast in terms of size and affordability for smaller artists. 

But in more positive music news, May 24th-26th will see Derry/Londonderry play host to the Radio 1 Big Weekend. There are some great artists booked for the line-up - blog favourites such as The 1975, Kodaline, Bastille, Vampire Weekend & Jake Bugg have all been announced for the series of gigs. However, there is one glaring omission from the 40+ artists scheduled to play.

Not one of them is from Derry/Londonderry.

And only one is from Northern Ireland - Two Door Cinema Club.

Given that the event has been scheduled in Derry to mark its year as the UK City of Culture, it seems odd that not one artist from the city has been booked for the event. And it's not like Derry is devoid of talent - Wonder Villains, SOAK and Little Bear are just three of the artists from the area who  received airtime on Radio 1 in the past year (with the former two even making the BBC Introducing Playlist). Those lucky enough to get tickets will still have a great time. It's just a pity that they couldn't fit just one artist from the area onto the bill.

In fairness to the BBC, they're not ignoring music from Stroke City entirely. Next week, Radio 1 will be hosting a series of gigs in the Nerve Centre with artists from Derry and beyond scheduled to perform. The artists include Girls Names, Droids, Axis of, Ryan Vail, Silhouette & Wylding, and more information about these can be found at the BBC's website here.

Preamble/rant over. Now here's some songs from four local artists that have floated The Metaphorical Boat this month, from country-pop, to heavy rock, to some things in between:

The Vals - Mailbox

The ever evolving line-up of The Vals will be releasing their 2nd album "Wildflower Ray" in the coming months. In the past week, the band have put on of the tracks from the album up for streaming. "Mailbox" is an upbeat little pop number that has more than a few nods to The Beatles, from the close harmonies to the harmonica riffing.


Freak's - Symmetry and Correlation

Strabane based trio Freak's came to my attention when Stephen McCauley played one of their tracks on his Electric Mainline show on Radio Foyle. It's hard to compare their song "Symmetry and Correlation" to other bands as there's they don't immediately sound like anyone else. However, I imagine that fans of The Pixies and Pavement will probably find something to like here.


The Last Generation - Battle Royale

There hasn't been a brilliant hard rock riff from a Northern Irish group for some time, possibly since "Tuppenny Nudger" by Lafaro. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't have a few great ones up its sleeve, like the one on "Battle Royale" by Maghera based quartet The Last Generation. If they continue to throw up great riffs like this one, they could end up as successors to the throne of Therapy?.


Aidan Logan - Tell Me

And finishing us off this week is Belfast singer-songwriter Aidan Logan with his debut single "Tell Me." The song is a bouncy, country-tinged number despite its darker lyrics about insecurity, and should act as a good introduction to Mr Logan's sound.

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