Wednesday 30 October 2013

Public Service Broadcasting - Elfstedentocht (Parts 1 & 2)

Having already brought out one of the best albums of 2013 so far with "Inform - Educate - Entertain", it is a welcome surprise to see some new music from Public Service Broadcasting mere months after its release.

It is particularly welcome to see PSB taking a new approach to their sample-led formula. Because for the first time, they have based their music around samples not in the English language. "Elfstedentocht" takes its name and samples from a 200km speed skating event that takes place in the Netherlands on an infrequent basis depending upon local weather conditions. Seemingly spurred on by the Dutch samples they had at their disposal, PSB decided not to just make one song, but two based around the event, both of which show off the two distinct sides of the group which have been apparent over the past few years.

"Elfstedentocht Part 1" is a driving rock track which seems to highlight the competitive side to the event, with heavy guitars juxtaposed alongside glacial synths. Part 2 on the other hand is, for lack of a better phrase, more of a chill-out track which seems to highlight the extreme weather conditions that the skaters find themselves in during the race.

It's great to hear some new music coming from the guys at Public Service Broadcasting, especially seeing them experimenting with new ideas whilst still staying true to the vision that made the group so beloved in the first place. Could this be the precursor to a new body of work for the duo outside of the English language? If it is, then on the strength of "Elfstedentocht", it cannot come soon enough.

Public Service Broadcasting will be touring the UK in November, including dates at the Stiff Kitten, Belfast on 15th November, and The Glassworks, Derry on 17th November.

Monday 28 October 2013

The Northern Ireland Music Prize

Over the past few months, an academy of individuals involved in music within Northern Ireland (including this very blog) were tasked with nominating their favourite albums from here to for the inaugural Northern Ireland Music Prize, which will be presented to the winning artist during Belfast Music Week in November. The prize seems to have been modeled after the Mercury Prize, where the albums are (in principle) nominated based on their quality and originality rather than just sales, which means that an album by an unknown quantity should stand as good a chance of winning overall than album by global superstars.

Two weeks ago, the 14 albums that made the shortlist were announced:

A Plastic Rose - Camera Shutter Life
And So I Watch You From Afar - All Hail Bright Futures
Anthony Toner - Sing Under the Bridges
Axis Of - Finding St Kilda
The Bonnevilles - Folk Art & the Death of Electric Jesus
Fighting With Wire - Colonel Blood
Foy Vance - Joy of Nothing
Girls Names - The New Life
Jetplane Landing - Don't Try
Le Carousel - Le Carousel
Space Dimension Controller - Welcome to Mikrosector-50
Tired Pony - The Ghost fo the Mountain
Trucker Diablo - Songs of Iron
Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon

Looking at the shortlist, it's great to see a wide range of different music genres recognised, ranging from alt-rock, punk and country, through to singer-songwriters, and even a few dance albums as well. It's also great to see albums signed to major labels, minor labels, and no labels at all being able to compete against each other on a level playing field. 

Of course, there are people who question the point of having a Northern Irish music like this. After all, there's already so many music awards already out there, so why should there by another one? Indeed, it appears that there has been a growth in region-specific album prizes in recent years seemingly modeled after the Mercury Prize.

In Scotland, they have the SAY Award, which was won this year by RM Hubbert (beating off Calvin Harris and Emeli Sandé in the process). There is the Welsh Music Prize, which had Georgia Ruth proclaimed the victor, whilst the Choice Music Prize, which has been running since 2005, is awarded to the best album from the island of Ireland, both north and south. 

Overall, it is my opinion that the Northern Ireland Music Prize is a good thing in celebrating the best music that Northern Ireland has to offer. However, it is imperative that the prize does not become an exercise in self-congratulatory back-slapping. It should not be insular exercise, rather it should act as a signpost to the world, telling it "This is what Northern Ireland has to offer. This is what we are made of. This is how we want the world to see us." Whilst the aforementioned regional music prizes do have an element of back-slapping to them, crucially they tend to get quite a bit of press outside of their respective areas. To date, I am yet to see much ink spilled (if any) about the Northern Ireland Music Prize outside of the usual local music sources. It is my hope however that over the next couple of weeks, there will be an enhanced chatter about the Prize, and it's eventual winner. Although I haven't read it in months, wouldn't it be fabulous to hear about the winner printed in the NME?

Given my interest in seeing the NI Prize reaching as big an audience as possible, I decided to do a quick bit of number crunching to see just how popular the 14 artists nominated for the Northern Ireland Music Prize really are. Using data which I gleamed from the popular website, which records just how often artists are listened to digitally, I looked at how many individuals listened to each of them over a 4-week period, from Sunday 29th September to Sunday 27th October. This is roughly two weeks before the nominees were announced, and two weeks after the nominees were announced. I then took this figure and divided it by four, to give an average number of listeners who listened to each artist on a weekly basis.

Ranked in order of popularity, from most to least, the 14 artists had this many listeners on

  1. Two Door Cinema Club - 174,493 (43623.25 weekly average)
  2. And So I Watch You From Afar - 11,944 (2986 w/a)
  3. Tired Pony - 7,917 (1979.25 w/a)
  4. Girls Names - 4,558 (1139.5 w/a)
  5. Foy Vance - 3,559 (889.75 w/a)
  6. Space Dimension Controller - 1,486 (371.5 w/a)
  7. Fighting With Wire - 416 (104 w/a)
  8. Jetplane Landing - 395 (98.75 w/a)
  9. Le Carousel - 277 (69.25 w/a)
  10. Axis of - 95 (23.75 w/a)
  11. A Plastic Rose - 88 (22 w/a)
  12. Trucker Diablo - 82 (20.5 w/a)
  13. The Bonnevilles - 80 (20 w/a)
  14. Anthony Toner - 16 (4 w/a)

There's a lot of interesting findings to come out of this data. Of course, there should be no surprise about TDCC topping the rankings by a country mile, but what is surprising is seeing post-rockers ASIWYFA having a greater listenership than Gary Lighbody's side-project Tired Pony, who have two top 20 albums to their name. I might have also expected Girls Names and Foy Vance to have traded positions (I guess it goes to show the power of being Belfast's most blogosphere-friendly band), whilst I had no idea Space Dimension Controller had so many fans. I guess that's genre bias for you. In the bottom half, it's surprising to see APR so far down the pecking order, whilst spare a thought for Anthony Toner, who finds himself as the least popular of the fourteen artists nominated.

Whilst this all makes for interesting reading, I should stress that the data is not exactly scientific, and a few caveats should be noted. The data is based on users from, so unless the listener is a member of and listens to one of the artists' songs digitally, it wouldn't have been recorded. Therefore, artists who listeners prefer CDs or vinyl would not have the date collated. Also, the data is based on if someone has listened to an artist over a 7 day period or not, and therefore a person listening to one track by an artist or a person listening to an entire album is treated equally. Still, I still think the list is quite interesting.

The Northern Ireland Music Prize will be awarded at a ceremony at the Mandela Hall, Belfast on Tuesday 12th November. Whilst I do have a favourite among the nominations, I will be diplomatic and say that any of the 14 albums nominated would make a worthy winner.

And here's a few of the nominees for you to enjoy:

Sunday 27 October 2013

The Leg - Chicken Slippers

Even for someone like myself, who doesn't mind their music to be a little bit on the eccentric side, the new single from Edinburgh trio The Leg, "Chicken Slippers", sure hits a lot of esoteric buttons. Perhaps it's because the band list their genre as "barking lunacy" and "deranged mentalism" on Soundcloud?

Seemingly an ode to making footwear out of recently decapitated poultry, "Chicken Slippers" is a song built around piano lines seemingly borrowed from vaudeville, and despite the stark-raving madness of it all, it's actually a pretty decent song, albeit not one that will suit everyone's refined tastes.

"Chicken Slippers" is available as a free download, and is taken from The Leg's 4th album "Oozing a Crepuscular Light", which is out on 11th November.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Fryars - The Power

London based Benjamin Garrett, better known to the music world as Fryars, has been picking up quite a few admirers within the music world, with both Depeche Mode and Kanye West allegedly being among his fans, and counting London Grammar and Summer Camp among the groups that he has supported. This is all in spite of him being involved with writing the soundtrack for Danny Dyer's worse-than-terrible film Deviation, proof that there is no sin on earth than cannot be atoned for.

His most recent single is "The Power", a song that has been picking up more than its fair share of airplay on Radio 1's nighttime shows. The song is a dreamy, quasi-psychedelic track that calls to mind "Deserter's Songs" era Mercury Rev, such is its mix of dreamy atmospherics and lovely pop hooks.

"The Power" is taken from his E.P "Radio PWR", which is is out now.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Amber Run - Heaven

As a result of the hype surrounding their self-released debut E.P "Noah", Nottingham bred 5-piece Amber Run  (previously Amber) were picked up by RCA Victor, the same label as Swim Deep, Everything Everything, and a young upstart named David Bowie. As far as label-mates go, you could do a lot worse.

Their first single for their new label, "Heaven" is out next month. It's quite a brave choice of first single for a major label, given that it seems to eschew the typical verse-chorus-verse structure for something a little bit more free form. That's not to say that they're not aiming for something commercial or radio friendly - the anthemic guitars are ripped straight out of the Coldplay songbook, and their vocals do have a little bit of The Killers about them. Also, don't be surprised if the acapella ending of the song is sampled by a hip- hop artist a few years down the line to create the chorus of one of their own songs, a la "Hide & Seek".

"Heaven" will be released on November 25th.

Monday 21 October 2013

Brighton - Run Away

Despite having a name that's as English as the Queen and proper queue etiquette, 5-piece indie-poppers Brighton are in fact from Haguesund in Norway. This has led to a few wee troubles for this blog in finding out more about the band, given that their biography has been written entirely in Norwegian.

Thankfully, Google Translate was able to save the day, and thus I can confirm that the band does indeed have smittende energi, and the chorus of their latest single, "Run Away" is indeed allsang-vennlige. If you'd like Two Door Cinema Club to be more lyrically and vocally similar to White Lies, whilst still containing an irresistibly catchy chorus, then you find much to like in "Run Away".

The song is available to download now for free.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Best Boy Grip - Runaway E.P

Following on from the release of "The Clerk" back in January, Derry native Eoin O'Callaghan, aka Best Boy Grip, has just released their third E.P, "Runaway", a release which should help to cement them as the city's best purveyor of piano-pop.

Unlike their previous E.P, which saw Best Boy Grip adding electronic elements and expanding the instruments at their disposal, "Runaway" is more of a 'back-to-basics' E.P, stripping their sound back solely to vocals/piano/bass/drums, allowing the songs themselves to come to the fore. This can be seen on "She Was Never a Dreamer" and "Locked In The Bathroom", which exemplifies O'Callaghan's penchant for dark lyrics juxtaposed with poppy melodies. Elsewhere, "Billy", a tale of a friend that you just cannot get rid of, allows Eoin to show off his piano prowess, sounding somewhat like Joe Jackson mixed with Queen's multi-tracked vocals at certain points.

However, it is the E.P's title track that makes this collection well worth you time, because quite simply, it is the best song that Best Boy Grip has recorded to date. Showcasing a surprisingly jaunty side to BBG, "Runaway" is one part Elton John, one part "Video Killed The Radio Star", and five parts the showstopping end of Act I song from every single brilliant Broadway musical of the past 30 years. It is hard to to listen to the song without imagining it being sung on stage in the Ulster Hall by a massive chorus line, complete with a choreographed dance routine (well, at least if, like me, you've got a drama degree). For anyone who feared that Best Boy Grip couldn't match the brilliance of "Barbara", then fret not, for "Runaway" knocks that song straight out of the ballpark. 

"Runaway E.P" will be released on October 21st.

Thursday 17 October 2013

Junior Prom - Sheila Put The Knife Down

One of the things about being a blog that tends to focus on new music is that because the artists are normally at the very beginning of their careers, usually with their first song or release, some groups only get featured once, barely referenced later on in the blog, if at all, like Roy from the Poochie episode of The Simpsons. This could happen for many reasons - the band might have split up, moved into different groups, or just started making music that did not float The Metaphorical Boat. 

Last summer, this blog featured a song by unsigned Brooklyn duo Junior Prom. Their single "A Little Time" was a great slice of Friendly Fires-esque indie-dance, and we hoped that it would be the start of something brilliant. However, as the months went on, and no new material was forthcoming, it seemed as if the band had called time on their career prematurely, and this blog continued pursuing the music of other upcoming artists.

That was until this month, when I was informed that not only is Junior Prom still a going concern, but a) they had just signed to Eleckra Records (a subsidiary of one of the three major worldwide record labels), and b) they have a new single out, "Sheila Put The Knife Down". The sweary single sounds as if it was created by putting Jagwar Mar, New Order and Phoenix in a blender, then used the grinding noise of the food processor as the basis for the condiment that the musical dish is served with. That is to say, it's a thoroughly enjoyable indie-dance song with a real bite.

Welcome back Junior Prom, my old amigo. Please keep in contact more frequently, okay?

Album Review: Kitsuné Maison 15


As far as record labels go, there's not many out there that can compete on coolness and hipness with French label Kitsuné. Having launched in 2002, its output is just as likely to be sold in Urban Outfitters as it is in your local record store, and to date label has put out acclaimed records by artists such as Is Tropical and Digitalism. 

However, the label is perhaps best known for its relationship with Two Door Cinema Club. The appearance of "Something Good Can Work" on their incredibly popular "Kitsuné Maison 7" compilation album in 2009 is credited with introducing the band to a wider audience, with the 2 subsequent studio albums they recorded on the label turning them into global superstars. TDCC have now flown the coop and signed to Parlophone, but the release of their latest compilation album, "Kitsuné Maison 15", shows that the label still has the ability to scout out potential future superstars.

And rather excitingly, on this compilation Kitsuné have seemingly decided to fill the TDCC-sized hole by putting a fellow Northern Irish band on the tracklist. Having noted last year that their song "Voices" had a bit of the French touch to it, Belfast band Go Wolf have earned a place on "Kitsuné Maison 15" with a re-recorded version of that song. The song's as funky and gloriously uplifting as ever, and if the positive blog reception it has received in the past few weeks is anything to go by, it could be the start of Go Wolf's very own journey to international stardom.

A few other acts who've previously appeared on this blog pop up on "Kitsuné Maison 15". Judi Dench's favourite band, Years & Years, contribute "Traps", which as we've noted before, is a song that goes from artsy to dancey within the space of 3 minutes. Hotly tipped Brighton group The Wytches feature on the bonus track with the acoustic "Summer Again", which unfortunately is nowhere near the high standard the band had set themselves with "Beehive Queen".

In terms of highlights, aside from aforementioned "Voices" and "Traps", the most enjoyable tunes on the album are "Deezy Daisy" by Portland, which is the sort of irresistible dance-pop song that Groove Armada only wish they were still capable of making, and the wonderful "Scared" from Swedes Nonono, a song that Portishead might have recorded had they been aiming for the dancefloor instead of the dinner party.

"Kitsuné Maison 15" should easily serve its aim at introducing new and eclectic artists across a range of genres, placing them firmly on the lips of music lovers for the foreseeable future. As a result, expect to hear a lot more from Antimatter People, Dillon Cooper, and, here's hoping, Go Wolf over the next year.

Released - 21st October 2013

Highlights - "Voices" (Go Wolf), "Traps" (Years & Years), "Deezy Daisy" (Portland).

Saturday 12 October 2013

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round-up #19

Sometimes, getting new music from Northern Ireland can be like waiting for a bus. You wait ages for one to come, then you decide that you're done waiting and decide instead to walk home, enjoying the scenery and happy that you were able to get some exercise in.

Whoops. That's not it. I'll start again.

Sometimes, getting new music from Northern Ireland can be like waiting for a bus. You think that there's nothing worth waiting for coming, and then all of a sudden you're inundated with so many buses that it's not possible to board them all, so you have to make the decision of which bus to take and which ones to ignore, and hope that those bus drivers don't feel heartbroken that you decided not to go with them.

Actually, on second thoughts, getting new music from here is absolutely nothing like getting a bus. I honestly don't know why I tried to make that comparison.

Nonetheless, here's a few new tunes from Northern Ireland which have been floating The Metaphorical Boat so far this month. None of them are about buses:

Sullivan and Gold - Lonely

Local record label Smalltown America is perhaps best known for releasing music very much on the heavier side of the rock spectrum. Having been formed to release material from Jetplane Landing, the label has put our records by artists like Lafaro, More Than Conquerors and Axis of. However, more recently the label seems to have signed a few artists on the softer, more folksier end of the musical spectrum. Earlier this year they signed the wonderful Little Bear (who, if there is justice in this world, will be absolutely massive in 2014), and later this year they will be releasing "For Foes", the debut album from Derry duo Sullivan and Gold.

Taken from that album, which will be released on November 25th, is the lovely single "Lonely". The song has great harmony vocals, and is made even more notable by containing a piano line that in places seems more in keeping with a house track than a song of the folksy variety.


Paper Man - The Only Sea for Miles and Miles

Ballyclare four-piece Paper Man released their debut E.P "After Effects" this week. Taken from the E.P is "The Only Sea For Miles and Miles", a track which seems to have been tailor made for the Kerrang! Radio playlist, given that their angsty sound calls to mind the bands such as Feeder & You Me At Six. Whether or not their music director takes to their music like a duck takes to water remains to be seen.


Cordials - Head in the Clouds

Ooh, Britpop-y sounds from the Portrush/Coleraine area? Cordials, you have made me a very satisfied captain indeed. "Head in the Clouds" is an upbeat sounding guitar-pop tune which Supergrass would be more than happy to put their name towards. And being such nice fellows, the band have made that track, alongside their self-titled E.P, free to download.


PigsAsPeople - The Art of Leaving Your House

When a band list as their influences acts whom I have never heard of, it normally means that they are purveyors of genres that I have no real deep knowledge of, either sludgy doom-y metal-y music or jazz. Pigsaspeople claim that their new E.P, "Idles & Us", was inspired by artists such as Converge, Slint Touche Amore, and I gather from those names that the band aren't likely to be going off into 7 minute saxophone solos in the middle of their sets. Or are they? Find out at The Speakeasy, Belfast on 24th October, where they will be launching the E.P alongside El Ten Eleven and Droids. But for now, listen to "The Art of Leaving Your House", and embrace the riff.

Friday 11 October 2013

The Little Kicks - Girl

Over the past few days, the wonderful Public Service Broadcasting have been announcing the artists who will be supporting them on their upcoming tour. While there are a few names announced that this blog is familiar with (including the wonderful Yes Cadets, who have been announced as the support for their Belfast gig at The Stiff Kitten on November 15th), it's always nice to come across some names which are new to the blog.

Names like Aberdeen based band The Little Kicks. They will be supporting the band for the Scottish portion of their tour from November 4th-6th, and it gives us a great excuse to check out their most recent single, the immediately infectious "Girl". With its great indie-disco rhythm, and sleek production, it comes off as a great cross between Franz Ferdinand and Eugene McGuinness. If you are heading to see Public Service Broadcasting in Aberdeen, Glasgow or Edinburgh, then you have no excuse not to head down early to catch them.

"Girl" is taken from The Little Kicks' new album "Put Your Love in Front of Me", which is out now.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Hologram - Say What You See

Having stepped away from the band temporarily to release an E.P under his own name back in August, Paul Shevlin has stepped back into the Hologram saddle to unleash their latest track. Presumably taking its title from the catchphrase on Northern Irish comedian Roy Walker, "Say What You See" sees guitars taking precedence over keyboards for the first time. It is also their poppiest single to date as well, with its almost funky rhythm calling to mind certain songs by Foster The People. "Say What You See" seems to have received more attention than some of their other songs released over the past year (including the one which featured on the Brit Awards album), so hopefully this release will give their reputation the big boost it deserves.

Hurdles - Where To Start E.P

Belfast based 4-piece Hurdles caught a lot of us off guard in May when they released the single "Kaleidoscope" without much fanfare. Thanks to its infectious nature, the song slowly became a favourite with lots of people both locally and further afield (including plays on Radio 1 and the lovely Steve Lamacq Show on 6music), leading to the band playing the main stage at Glasgowbury despite being a going concern for less than nine months. The band have now released the follow-up to that song, the brand new five track E.P "Where To Start", a release which should cement their reputation as one of the most irresistible indie-pop groups in Northern Ireland.

Following on from the short introductory track, the title song sets the stage for the record's sound - highly danceable guitar orientated pop will a real spring in its step. The majority of songs on the E.P follow this pattern. Focus track "Control", which is by far the E.P's strongest track, shows off the band's knack for catchy  Phoenix-esque bangers with simple yet effective choruses, whilst closing track "Ruthless" is an enjoyable tune based around a guitar riff not to dissimilar from "Undercover Martyn" by TDCC. "Roadrunner" slows down the pace a little bit, taking their indie-pop sound and adding some subtle glockenspiel and a guitar outro which has a whiff of U2 about it.

Hurdles have claimed that "Where To Start" is a release that shows a progression in complexity in their sound. In all honesty it doesn't sound any more complex than what they've released in the past. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing. When the band have a real knack for writing enjoyable, indie-dance tunes, I don't think you necessarily need to add anything extra.

"Where To Start" by Hurdles will be released on October 10th. They launch the E.P on the same day at The Speakeasy, Belfast, alongside fellow blog favourites Affleck and Go Swim.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Fold ft. Mr Gee - Salvation E.P

The last time this blog covered live trip-hop group Fold, we commented that the band had taken a similar approach to the sound that brought Public Service Broadcasting so many admirers, by taking vocal samples from old recordings and using them as a springboard for their own compositions. Over a year on, it seems as if that comparison was well founded, as since then the group have recorded a well-regarded remix of "Theme From PSB", as well as supporting them in their hometown of Leeds.

For their latest release, the "Salvation" E.P,  Fold have eschewed the use of vocals samples in their music, instead relying on a collaborator to add a common voice to the proceedings, performance poet Mr Gee. Across the E.Ps four tracks, meaty topics such as the behavior of politicians and the treatment of immigrants are covered, backed exquisitely by the group's wonderfully constructed tunes. The highlights of the E.P are the title track, which has echoes of the harsher sounds of Lemon Jelly, and closing track "Passing Strangers", which would not sound out of place on DJ Shadow's "Endtroducing" album.

The problem that can arise with releases with a distinctive political message is that it can detract from the universal appeal that music can, and should have. It is a credit to both Fold and Mr Gee that they have managed to create an E.P that sticks firmly to their principles, yet still should appeal to a wide audience, all while sounding incredibly brilliant.

"Salvation" will be released on October 28th.

Monday 7 October 2013

Ed Zealous - Thanks A Million

Earlier this year, Belfast electro-rockers Ed Zealous released "Medicines", a cracking scuzzy monster of a tune. That song received quite a bit of airplay of Radio 1, including being used as bed music of Phalice's late night midweek show, and is surely a contender not just for the best song from NI of the year, but the best song of the year.

Six months down the road, and the band have announced the release of their latest single, "Thanks A Million". Once again produced by Eliot James (Bloc Party/Two Door Cinema Club among others), the track is a smidgen more pop orientated that its predecessor, whilst still holding on to its harsh in-your-face electronic production. The chorus sounds like it could have easily have been lifted from The Killers' back catalogue, albeit a slightly more chaotic one.

With two great singles under the belt this year, Ed Zealous are real contenders to be the next break-out artist from these shores. Let's hope that their debut album, scheduled for release some time next year, delivers on their promise.

"Thanks a Million" will be released on October 21st.

Sunday 6 October 2013

Caught Live: Superfood/Wonder Villains

Venue: Voodoo Bar, Belfast

Date: 5th October 2013

To say that the turnout to see well-regarded Birmingham band Superfood in Voodoo this evening is disappointing would be something of an understatement. Excluding the support band, sound technicians and bar staff, there couldn't have been any more than nine people in attendance, oneself included. This is a great pity, as both bands playing are rather decent indeed.

Firstly, Wonder Villains. Having seen them many times over the past few years in many different venues, the group are as tight musically and stage-wise as they have ever been, performing their trademark brand of excitement-pop. All the songs that they have honed over the years as present and correct, from latest single "33", the Heroes referencing "Oh Peter", the Len influenced "Blonde", through to the Pokémon quoting "Ferrari". There is something new this evening however, with Cheylene switching from keyboards to her newly acquired keytar for the last few songs. It's a great performance from the Wonder Villains. Why they still haven't become uber massive yet remains a mystery.

Having supported Peace in Belfast over the summer, it is now time for Superfood to take to the stage for their first headline gig in the city. Despite the low turnout, the 4-piece put on a great performance with their set of Britpop revivalist tunes. The highlights of the set were latest single "Bubbles", whose Blur-aping energy was amped up to the nth degree at Voodoo, and their closing tune, the self-titled "Superfood", an infectious, slightly psychedelic single with an irresistible vocal hook. It was a great 1st headlining set for the group. It's just a pity there weren't more people to witness it.

So why was there so few people there? Here are a few possible reasons:

1. The gig's location
Since the closure of Auntie Annies a few months ago, the main venues for new/upcoming touring artists to play in Belfast has shifted away from the Queen's University area into Belfast city centre, in places like Voodoo and The Oh Yeah Centre. For artists whose main audiences are likely to be at university, this makes it slightly less convenient a venue to get to, meaning there's less chance of people checking out the gig on an impulse.

2. Confusion about the venue.
A few people arrived after the gig finished having mistakenly thought the gig was in The Limelight, as there appeared to have been some confusion on Twitter about the venue.

3. Perhaps it was too early to be playing in Belfast.
To date, Superfood have three songs recorded on their Soundcloud page, and whilst they have received a lot of hits and attention to date, it might not have been extensive enough to excite music fans in Belfast, many of whom are reluctant to even see local bands who have that amount of songs recorded. Perhaps when the band have an album to their name people in Belfast may be more willing to check them out.

But for whatever reason the turnout was so low, I sincerely hope it doesn't put them off playing in Belfast again in the future. After all, I think they are a great band with heaps of potential and a few killer tracks. With their great Britpop inspired sound, they have the potential to be the new Inspiral Carpets or Dodgy. I sincerely hope they don't end up being the next Catch or Viva Brother instead.

If it's any consolation, here's something that hopefully will bring some solace to Superfood. When The 1975 first played in Belfast in December last year, there was no more than thirty people in attendance, if even that. (I should know. I was there). This week, merely 10 months later, the same band played at the Mandela Hall in the same city, and sold out the 900 capacity venue weeks in advance. In Belfast, a touring band can go from 'also playing' to the hottest gig in town in a short period of time. Let's hope that's what Superfood will enjoy the next time they play here.

Saturday 5 October 2013

Go Swim - Spontaneous/Silver Tung

One great thing about following Northern Irish music is that if your favourite band on the local scene splits up, the chances are within a few months members of those collectives will be back with a vengeance within a few months, gigging and recording under a different guise.

Go Swim is the latest project from Belfast musicians who have been involved elsewhere in the past. Guitarist/vocalist Julianne Shaw had been involved with electro duo Nakatomi Towers, who supported Little Boots whilst she was still massive before calling it a day in 2010, and a few members of the band were involved with Parachutes Over Paris, who released a rather fine E.P before fizzling out. Having debuted at the start of the summer with the bouncy "Halo", Go Swim have released two new tracks, which should win them a few more admirers.

Of the two new songs, the best of them is "Spontaneous". At first, the song seems to be your usual Two Door Cinema Club inspired indie-rock tune, which of course is no bad thing indeed. However, any expectations are confounded when the drums come in, a driving rhythm that plays at twice the speed one might expect from the song's guitar riff. Their other new song, "Silver Tung", is a more introspective tune, albeit one which builds up to a powerful climax.

Both "Spontaneous" and "Silver Tung" follow on from the work laid down by their debut single by adding different perspectives to their indie pop-rock framework. Let's hope that Go Swim can progress that little bit further than their predecessor bands did.

"Spontaneous" and "Silver Tung" are both available to download for free. Go Swim will be playing Radar in The Speakeasy, Belfast on Thursday 10th October alongside Hurdles & Affleck.

Photo of Go Swim is © Carrie Davenport.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Sea Pinks - An Exploded View

In July this year, Neil Brogan, the drummer for Belfast post-punk revivalists Girls Names (Belfast's biggest band on the blogosphere), announced that he would be leaving the group to concentrate on his other musical project, Sea Pinks (Belfast's second biggest band on the blogosphere).

It is no surprise then that the latest song under the name, "An Exploded View", is the best and most confident song they have released to date. In the past, their songs have have tread a similar fuzzy music path to Girls Names, which makes their new song sound very fresh indeed. It is a lovely jangly guitar pop number, a song with a jaunty energy reminiscent of some of the best work of The Coral. Even with three albums already behind them, "An Exploded View" offers us the reassurance that Sea Pinks' still have lots of good work in store for us.

"An Exploded View" will be released on October 5th as a limited edition 7" vinyl, alongside "Magpies Eyes."