Wednesday 1 January 2014

The Metaphorical Boat - Thoughts Of '13, Resolutions for '14.

2014 - we are inside you.

The earth has finally made a full rotation around the sun, as we wave goodbye to the year 2013. 2013 has been a memorable year for both myself and the blog. The amount of visitors The Metaphorical Boat has received in 2013 is about 25% above what we received in 2012, which is pretty good considering the hallowed cries of the doom-mongers claiming that music blogs are dying (note to said people - we're not). Outside of TMB, I stepped down from my role as Head of Music at Queen's Radio, and left the station after being involved with it for 5 years. It was sad to go, but it was time for me to move on, and by all accounts, my replacement in the role, Robyn, has done a sterling job.

At the start of 2013, I set a few New Year's Resolutions for things I wanted to achieve for the blog over the next 12 months. This is what was set, and whether they were matched or not:

1. Write more long-form articles.
Aside from a quasi-scientific look at which acts nominated for the Northern Irish Music Prize were the most popular among fans, the blog tended to steer away from the long form, opinionated articles. Instead. we tended to incorporate these into posts about artists and songs, if there were relevant, eg. our opinions about the Mercury Prize were tied in to a post about the new single from Public Service Broadcasting (how the heck did "Inform - Educate - Entertain" not get nominated? I will never know), and you found out our opinions on songs being used in adverts whilst enjoying the lovely rumblings of Trwbador. I'm not sure whether this is a better or worse way to do it, but it seems to work for us. 

2. Start conducting interviews for the blog
None on this blog in 2013, although I did have the opportunity to interview the wonderful J Wilgoose Esq. for Chordblossom. 

3. Continue to cover as many exciting Northern Irish artists as possible.
I'd like to think that we covered a wide range of artists from NI in 2013. With artists like Girls Names, ASIWYFA and Foy Vance releasing great albums in 2013, and many others making fantastic music, it was a great year for the province. It's just a pity that there weren't any artists from here to break through to the mainstream nationally, but here's hoping that 2014 will be that year.

4. Encourage the establishment of more Northern Ireland music blogs.
It got a bit lonelier for me on The Hype Machine this year, as the only other Northern Irish based blog to have been indexed there, besides ourselves, has been removed. Unfortunately, despite my encouragement over the year, it doesn't seem as if there are any blogs from here that are likely to step up to the Hype Machine any time soon. 

I should point out two of the new ones that have popped up in 2013. There's Encore NI, run by Taylor Johnson (who's also the lead singer for Paper Man, who I imagine will have some great music in store this year). It may not my the most prolific music blog to date, but there's to denying its passion for local music, as well as its ability to dissect what exactly makes a song great in much more detail that I could ever dream of doing. There's also The FML Blog, which looks at fashion & lifestyle in addition to local music. It's been relatively dormant for the past few months, but it seems as if it will be restarting with a vengeance in 2014, which I will be looking forward to.

In terms of new music websites based here, there's been quite a few big ones either continuing their great work or starting up. Chordblossom continues to be going strongly, with the site now under new ownership (good luck, Rob!). The other big NI music site this year has been The Thin Air, which was started earlier this year by much of the team who were involved in the now-defunct AU Magazine. Also relaunching this year was Gigging NI, a site which was very influential locally for a while in its day, but had been inactive for a few years. Finally, BandsNI made the step up from Twitter/Facebook to a fully fledged website, which offers a lot of great advice to new artists, alongside reviews of music.

So all in all, a great year for new NI based music websites, but not as good for music blogs. I doubt this blog was the spark that encouraged any of them to start, but you never know.

5. Buy a captain's hat
The captain remains hat less, I repeat, hat less.

So very hit an miss then. So what are our resolutions for 2014? Some of them may be familiar. They are:

1. Continue to cover as many brilliant Northern Irish artists as possible. 
This shouldn't be too hard in 2014, given that artists such as Wonder Villains and Ed Zealous are due to release their debut albums this years, whilst others like A Plastic Rose, Little Bear & In An Instant are going to continue making brilliant music. 

And to show that we're starting as we mean to go on, here is the latest single from Dromore nu-folk band Hillspeak, "The Dusty Mountain". I am genuinely shocked that other local music-y types besides myself have yet to pick up on them yet. Hopefully people will wake up to them this year.

2. Encourage the establishment of more Northern Ireland music blogs.
Are you based in Northern Ireland, and absolutely love music, especially of the local variety?


Are you based in Northern Ireland, and absolutely despise music, especially of the local variety?


There, that should do the trick.

3. Get to a new music festival outside of Northern Ireland.
It may surprise you, but despite my love of music, I have only been to two festivals in my lifetime, and both of them were Glasgowbury (RIP). So this year, I intend to broaden my horizons by attending a festival outside of my place of residence. Top of the list of where I'd like to go is The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, where hundreds of new and emerging artists play in 30 venues over the course of a long weekend. Life permitting, I hope to attend in May this year, covering as many exciting new artist as I can for the blog, and hopefully catch a few other Northern Irish artists who've also made the trip.

And finally -

4. Buy a Captain's Hat. 
Because why not?

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