Sunday 31 May 2015

Northern Ireland Tunes - Round Up #35

It's been a while, hasn't it? Well, let's keep this preamble brief then and get right into this month's batch of wonderful tunes from Northern Ireland that have been floating The Metaphorical Boat this month - 

Hot Cops - Decay

We haven't written about Hot Cops on this site in over a year now, but it's fair to say that a band have really developed in the time since then. We've seen them live a few times, and have been very impressed with how well they come across, and they have been busy building up a caché of admirers, which culminated in them playing a slot at this year's Radio 1 Big Weekend in exotic Norwich (you can see part of their set on the BBC website, although it's probably be coming down soon enough).

The trio recently released a new double-A side single on a pay what you want basis, the best of the bunch being "Decay", a track which showcases their masterful mix of slackerish rock with grunge overtones. Plus this one oddly enough reminds us a little bit of The Magic Numbers, which is something a bit different, I guess.

There's a funny story as to how we first heard of Hot Cops when we first wrote about them last year. However, now is not the time to regale you with that particular story. In the meanwhile, enjoy "Decay":

Vokxen - Somebody

Vokxen have already picked up quite a bit of love despite only being a going concern for the past few months, the highlight of which being played on Cool FM (I know - a local band, being featured on a local commercial radio station. It's almost unthinkable, really). Although it's easy to see why their debut single "Somebody" has gone over so well with those of a radio-y persuasion, as they are one of the first groups from here to embrace such an overwhelmingly pop outlook for some time, quite possibly since the Wonder Villains. "Somebody" is a fantastic debut single, which mixes girl-group vocal harmonies with some juicy sounding keyboards and an incredibly infectious melody. Probably the group from here most likely to nab a slot supporting The Saturdays in the near future.

Although this is their debut single, we have covered some of the band's work in the past, as keyboardist Claire McCartney was formerly a member of Futurescope


Shadow Police - Sleep Tonight

The best thing about the film Drive (aside from the presence of Christina Hendricks, obviously), is that its soundtrack has given us a new comparison touchstone for comparing electronic music to, instead of just vaguely saying that something sounds like it comes 'from the 80s.' Which brings us neatly to "Sleep Tonight" by electro-pop duo Shadow Police, a song that does indeed sound like it would fit very neatly onto the soundtrack of said Ryan Gosling film, with its squelching electronic bass and rather distant vocals.


Alice Signal Fires - Starting Gun

It's a real shame among new and emerging bands that so many of them deliver some fantastic material, then subsequently split up before they can really reach their full potential. A few years ago, we were really excited by Carryduff based pop-punk band Kept Under Glass after being thoroughly won over by their song "I Don't Really Like Clubs". However, despite releasing a fore more tracks and gaining a bit of momentum, the band split up, never to be heard from again.

However, one of the members of that band, Declan McCrory, has teamed up with his brother and a few others to start a new project, Alice Signal Fires, and released the album "Ghosts" as a free download a few months back. Taken from the album is "Starting Gun", a track that's a little bit Americana, a little bit country, a little bit Neutral Milk Hotel, a little bit "Horse With No Name", and a little bit epic as well.

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Rams' Pocket Radio - Reservoir

It's always lovely to hear new music coming from Peter McCauley, aka Rams' Pocket Radio, who we've been writing about on the blog more or less since we starting with the whole music blogging thing (including featuring him as one of our Tips For 2012 back in the day). His debut album, "Béton", picked up quite a few plaudits, including a nomination for the Northern Irish Music Prize, and just this month he released a new single for us, "Reservoir".

Unlike the more piano-based sound you might have come to expect from Rams', "Reservoir" sees keyboards and electronics take on a more prominent role than before, which some people have compared to the sounds of "Kid A"-era Radiohead, although it still contains the earnest songwriting and dischordant pop elements that we've come to expect from them. Plus the lovely string section that comes in halfway through helps to retain a sense of earthiness to the proceedings.

"Reservoir" offers an interesting development of the sound of Rams' Pocket Radio, and might give us a few hints as to what we can expect when album #2 eventually drops.

"Reservoir" is available to download now.

Monday 4 May 2015

Pleasure Beach - Go

This is the story of a 21st century mystery. It isn't a mystery on the same level as the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, and it sure as heck won't be remembered in the years to come (I'd actually be surprised if you remember it the moment you click away from this page), but it's a mystery nonetheless.

Last week, the band Pleasure Beach appeared on my Twitter feed, announcing the release of their debut single, "Go". This came as a surprise to me, as it wasn't a sponsored Tweet, and I had no recollection of ever following a band of that name. So what happened?

My first thoughts was that for some reason, Twitter had decided, in their infinite wisdom, that Pleasure Beach were a band that I absolutely, positively, must have to follow, because their music will change my life in ways that I couldn't possibly imagine. There's would have been some precedence to this, as the same week Q Magazine had been added to my Twitter feed, despite the fact that a) I hadn't followed them, and b) am not middle-aged.

But even so, I thought it would be unlikely that a new band would have the necessary financial power to get a multi-billion company to exploit their algorithms on their behalf, which led me to my second hypothesis - were Pleasure Beach formed from the ashes of another band that I had followed in the past? Having learned that the band were from Northern Ireland, this seemed like the obvious conclusion. However, after going through some of the bands that we'd covered in the past who'd split up whose sound could be comparable with that of the new band (some of our possible contenders included The Alice Kona Band and Amateur Historians), and with none of the increasing number of blogs who had written about the band able to shed some light on it, I gave up my sleuthing, leaving the outcome of this case open.

Or at least until last week, when the wonderful people on BBC Radio Ulster's Across The Line were able to answer the question that had been plaguing me for hours - the band is a continuation of Yes Cadets. They were a band very close to this blog's heart - we even wrote about them the very first day this blog was active, and given that we hadn't heard about them since they supported Public Service Broadcasting at the tail end of 2013, we thought that they'd probably called time on the band. And so, the pieces had finally come together.

Now that our mystery is solved, we're delighted for two reasons - firstly that they're still making music, and that if "Go" is anything to go by, the music that they're going to make as Pleasure Beach going to be of a very high calibre. Compared to the more electronic/indie sound that they made as YC,  as Pleasure Beach they are making electronically-tinged Springsteen-esque American rock, not too dissimilar to what The War of Drugs have done to much aplomb. "Go" has already started to get a lot of people excited about the band, and now they can add one more person to the mix.

Just let me know the next time you decide to change on me, please?

"Go" is due to be released on May 25th as a Double A-side with "Absentee".