Wednesday 25 May 2016

Ella Fence - Unknown Water

(Alternative title: "Why do I always discover great Australian musicians whilst queuing for sausages, Part 2")

So The Great Escape is well an truly over for another year, so if you wanted to see all the best new music coming through at the moment in one easy to navigate town, then you'll have to wait until May again for another opportunity. But that doesn't mean that there's still isn't music from the festival that we're yet to discover. There were some acts that we didn't come across until after they'd performed, whose music we've then come to enjoy.

As mentioned in our round-up of TGE from Saturday, the Australian delegation hit upon the best idea to encourage as many people as possible to come down to their showcase in Brighton at Concorde 2, in spite of it being the most out-of-reach location at the festival (it's about a 15 minute walk from the next closest venue). Every year, they put on a barbecue with free food for any of the attendees, so you can gnash down a lovely bit of meat whilst enjoying the music on offer. It might be a move that appeals to humanity's most base instincts, but gosh darn it, it works, for just like in 2014, it convinced me to make the journey down. And whilst the journey down there was worth it for Kim Churchill alone (the artist who was the undoubted highlight of the weekend for me), there was one other Australian artist that I discovered whilst there, and did so under rather familiar circumstances.

Back in 2014, I blogged about Aussie duo Microwave Jenny after striking up a conversation with them whilst queuing up for an Australian taco (a hot dog using a pan loaf instead of a bun). Two years later, I struck up a conversation with an Australian girl whilst the both of us were waiting to get some food. I don't know why it always seems to happen there, I'm guessing it's either because a) I'm an incredibly approachable person (and even more so when I'm wearing my awesome Totoro hoodie), or b) Australians are just the loveliest, friendliest people in the world. Based on experience, It's almost definitely b).

During our conversation, I learned that she was Ella Fence, who had been touring Europe as part of the Australian delegation, and although she wasn't performing at the Aussie BBQ, she had played in Brighton at the Alternative Great Escape on the Thursday. After talking about her music and how her tour was going (she's currently playing live as a three-piece band, although has her heart set on playing with a string section at some point in the future), I agreed to check out her music once I returned home.

Now that I've had a chance to give her music a thorough listen, I can confirm that her music is indeed rather fine. Take "Unknown Water", which was released as a single last years. Produced by Dan Smith, who's also worked with Passenger and Snow Patrol, it is an fine example of epic, cinematic alt-pop in the vein of Florence & The Machine that builds up into a cataclysmic climax.

So if there are any lessons to be taken from this post, it's these:
1) Ella Fence is a great talent
2) Australians are lovely, and
3) Queuing for food offers a great, untapped opportunity to get people interested in your music.

"Unknown Water" is taken from the E.P "Wanderlust", which is out now.

Monday 23 May 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Saturday 21st May

So my Great Escape escapades have concluded for another year, having seen some great artists along the way. Of course, with so many artists on offer, and so many people wanting to see all the artists on offer, there were a few acts that I wanted to see but alas, couldn't get down to, so apologies to Johnny Lloyd, The Zolas & Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda VHS Tape?, who hopefully I will get to see at some point in the future.

So here are the acts that I did indeed see on Saturday, the final day of The Great Escape 2016, complete with rushed photography - 

Jesse MacCormack

Location: Patterns Upstairs

Canadian singer-songwriter, whose songs gave up Hozier-y vibes throughout. Not really my cup of tea.

Go March

Location: Patterns Upstairs

The Belgian group were an unexpected delight, with the trio's experimental instrumentals being engaging and infectious without encroaching into the realms of self-indulgence.

Kim Churchill

Location: Concorde 2

The Australian delegation have a tradition of hosting a barbecue at Concorde 2 whilst showcasing their artists at The Great Escape, in the hope that hungry festival goers will make the walk down the pier to enjoy the Antipodean artists on offer whilst gobbling down a complimentary hot dog (I'll put my hands up and admit that's the main reason why I headed down to it, just like I did in 2014).

But I am truly thankful that they done so, for without it I would not have enjoyed the undoubted highlight of the weekend, singer-songwriter Kim Churchill. Armed with just a guitar, harmonica and stomp-box, Kim put on a captivating performance, creating a sound that filled the room, calling to mind a bluesier, world-weary Ed Sheeran. "Window In The Sky" sounds like it has monster hit written all over it, whilst another song written about an elder man who fell in love with Kim's grandmother as they were both dying was just beautiful. I really hope that his performance at TGE leads to him picking up a following over here, because if his performance in Brighton is anything to go by, he sure can deliver the goods.

The Reubens

Location: Concorde 2

Following up my favourite act of the festival was always going to be a tough act to follow for The Reubens. Their blues-y indie rock didn't click with me as much as I would have liked it to, but it looked as if that didn't matter one jot - the room was absolutely heaving whilst they were on stage.


Location: Shooshh

French singer Siska is another of those artists that want to bring the Bristol sound/trip hop right up to date, and she does so in fine form, with a great set of songs that would very much do Portishead or Massive Attack proud.

The Barberettes

Location: Shooshh

Every 10 years or so, an act comes along that wants to revive the doo-wop sound of the 50s a la The Andrews Sisters. The last band to attempt it was The Puppini Sisters, with somewhat mixed results, and at The  Great Escape this year there was the chance to witness the next contenders to the crown - Korean trio The Barberettes.

And do you know what? Their set was the most fun that I had at the festival all week. Their performance consisted of several self-penned songs (including one which apparently was a hit in 16 countries), as well as a few covers (including "Valerie", "The Shoop Shoop Song" & the song that all close-harmony singers are required to cover by law, "Mr Sandman"), and throughout the whole set, I had a big stupid grin on my face.

One imagines that a major label over here will pick up the girls and rush-release an album targeted at the Christmas market, which would be both a joy and a shame at the same time.


Location: Wagner Hall

And the final act I saw at The Great Escape this year was Scottish singer Kloe. Whilst her ice-cold electro didn't always hit the mark for me (although "Teenage Craze" is one undeniably fine song), you've got to have respect for an artist who can perform to such a high level whilst being in a state of complete and utter inebriation. 

Saturday 21 May 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Friday 20th May

Day two of The Great Escape 2016 has now concluded. Here are the artists we saw today, complete with pithy reviews and hastily taken pictures - 


Location: Spiegeltent

I almost didn't go to see Bry on the basis that I wasn't cool enough for him (he joked during the set that it was different for him to play to an older audience who have commitments), but it was very much worth it. He's got a few decent songs up his sleeve, and although they might not entirely be to my taste, I can see why he's so popular with his audience.

In addition, if he ever decides that music isn't for him, he's definitely got a 2nd career in stand-up in front of him, as his adorkable stage banter had me in hysterics throughout.


Location: Spiegeltent

A few technical issues aside, exmagician put on a great set in the Spiegeltent, which should come as a relief to anyone who was worried that they wouldn't be able to deliver the goods post-Cashier No.9.  

 JR Green

Location: Brighthelm Centre

Just when you think you've seen all the accordions you're going to see over the weekend, another one pops up out of the blue. The Strontian brothers sing folk songs about the travails of youth, albeit a little more sweary than you'd expect from the average accordion-powered outfit - Nathan Carter this ain't. "Nigerian Princess" was the highlight of the set.

Ciaran Lavery

Location: Spiegeltent

Shamefully, having written about Ciaran Lavery on the blog for years, this was the first time that I've had the pleasure of seeing him live (although I did see him as a member of Captain Kennedy). A really confident set from Ciaran, with his tender acoustic songs going down well with the crowd, and should line things up nicely for the release of his new album next week.

Pleasure Beach

Location: Spiegeltent

I sure did spend a lot of time in the Spiegeltent.

The tent was crammed by the time Pleasure Beach came on, and it's unsurprising to see why. Their driving synth-heavy rock really got the crowd going, and songs that those of us have grown to love, like "Go" and "Dreamer To The Dawn", sounded fantastic live.

There was one point of contention during the gig - during the last five minutes of the set, some monstrously side-burned twit started taking photos of the band, holding his phone directly in front of the face of some of the members in a highly disrespectful fashion, and although I'm unsure how the band felt about it, it didn't sit well with myself and some other members of the audience.

Suede - Night Thoughts

Location: Bosco Theatre

I got to meet Suede. Words cannot describe my joy at this.


Location: Green Door Store

Lovely, scuzzy indie-rock with plenty of bite. "Baby's Alright", a song with dark, pointed lyrics disguised by a poptastic chorus, was the highlight.

Ten Fé

Location: The Hope & Ruin

And the last band of the day was very much the highlight. Although this Ten Fé gig was in a smaller venue and shorter than the first time I saw them, I enjoyed this one a lot more. "Make Me Better" is still as captivating as ever, and more recent singles "Elodie" and "In The Air" are definitely clicking with the audience know that they're better known. There was also a new song in the set, which I think is called "Twist My Arm", which I have a feeling is going to be a favorite of mine once it gets releases officially.

This gig also made me realise for the first time the split between the duo in terms of who takes lead vocals on the songs, with Ben taking the lead for the rockier songs and Leo taking the lead for the more psychedelic, weirder tunes. 

Friday 20 May 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Thursday 19th May

So like a bat out of hell, the first day of The Great Escape 2016 has concluded. Much merriment has been had by all, including yours truly. Here are the artists that The Metaphorical Boat saw on day one, brief thoughts, as well as our traditional blurry, hastily taken pictures - 


Location: Prince Albert

Having known very little about the band before the festival, I went to see these South Africans based solely on the fact that their name is a pun on the great cake known to mankind. A smart move, as the trio treated us to a solid set of Afro-pop in very much in the style of Vampire Weekend. A good opening.


Location: Latest Music Bar

Decent lo-fi indie-pop that reminded me a little of Belle & Sebastian or Los Campesinos!. I wasn't blown away by them, but it gave me enough reason to look in to them more. 

 Reuel Elijah

Location: Latest Music Bar (Upstairs)

The good thing about the Great Escape is that it gives you a chance to sample genres and acts that you wouldn't normally give the time of day to. I'm not a big fan of hip-hop, and whilst I recognise that Reuel Elijah is good for his genre, his performance wasn't enough to convert me. Nice dancers though.

 Catholic Action

Location: Brighthelm Centre

The Glasgow band were undoubtedly the highlight of the day - their highly charged set of garage-rock really grabbed me, and already they've got at least five or six songs that could make an impact, including their brilliant single "L.U.V".

They also delivered one of the funniest moments of the day when they asked everyone who wasn't part of the music industry to raise their hands, and acted with delight when mainly regular punters raised their hands.

Atlas Wynd

Location: The Hope & Ruin

Caught a few songs from the duo whilst passing through. Garage-rock of the Royal Blood variety. Not for me, but the room was absolutely heaving.


Location: The Pop-Up Stage

Nice guy, lovely acoustic songs, incredibly good looking. What's not to love?


Location: The Marlborough Theatre

To say that these guys are a rambunctious lot would be an understatement - at two points during the set their lead singer jumped directly into the crowd without warning, almost knocking over yours truly in the process. Still, no harm was done, and you can't deny they've got some great noise-rock tunes in them.

Haiku Salut

Location: Sallis Benney Theatre

Dandered in to see this trio due to another act I wanted to see was full-up. The post-rock trio didn't really grab me, although I applaud the efforts of any band that try to bring the accordion back into popular music.


Location: Latest Music Bar

See Asylums (above), with the exception that they had the good grace to announce 5 minutes in advance that they were about to jump into the crowd. They had a similar noise-rock sound to Asylums too, wouldn't be surprised if they ended up going on a joint tour at some point.


 Location: Queens Hotel

Didn't do anything for me, although I do feel that if I'd seen them earlier in the day before a lot of the other bands, I would have enjoyed them a lot more.


Location - Concorde 2

There was a 15 minute walk to get to this venue, but was definitely worth the journey for Blossoms, who for lack of a better phrase, have blossomed into a slick, confident live act. "Charlemagne" remains the highlight of the set.


Location: Paganini Ballroom

And the day finishes on a real high courtesy of Anteros. Laura Hayden has all the qualities of a great frontwoman - great charisma, great voice, and when she sings, it feels like she's only addressing you (although given some of the subject matter of some of their songs, that might not always be a good thing). There's one song in their set, "The Beat", which has the hallmarks of a breakthrough single if it gets the right push.

Monday 16 May 2016

The Great Escape 2016 - Artists To Watch

From Thursday 19th May through to Saturday 21st May, Brighton will be playing host to The Great Escape, a music festival that for fans of new music offers a smorgasbord of great live acts. 30 venues across Brighton will play host to hundreds of acts over the three days from 12 in the afternoon to well after midnight. And even more excitingly, for the first time since 2014, your humble captain is heading over to soak up the sun, atmosphere, and most importantly, the bands, for those three days.

With so many bands playing, it can be hard to decide who to go to see. From experience, we love going to a venue at random without any forethought and discovering a new favourite band that we'd never heard of before (which happened with us with Alvvays when we saw them at the festival in 2014). However, it's always worth picking out a few artists beforehand that we'd like to check out, either because it gives us an opportunity to see some new and emerging bands for the first time (especially given our location, as Belfast isn't usually a first port of call for artists at the start of their career), or to see some bands we've enjoyed in the past in a completely different environment. 

So to give you a taster of what to expect, here's a couple of artists that The Metaphorical Boat are intending to see at The Great Escape, and very much hope that you hope to see as well. And if you see me at the festival, please be sure to say hello. I promise you I'm friendly! - 


Venue - Paganini Ballroom

Date/Time - Thursday, May 19th 2016 - 11.15pm

Why do I care?
Many of us fell under the spell of their wonderful single "Breakfast", a peppy little indie-pop number. If they've got an entire meal-time filled with more delicious morsels, it'll be a great set indeed.


Venue - (a) Concorde 2
(b) Wagner Hall
(c) Wagner Hall

Date/Time - (a) Thursday, May 19th, 10:15pm
(b) Friday May 20th - 11:30am
(c) Friday May 20th -11:30pm

Why do I care?

Given their placing 4th on 'current year' BBC Sound Of... poll, Blossoms are the band being tipped to save UK guitar music in 'current year'. They've built up a steady run of singles over the past few months, the most notable being the infuriantly catchy "Charlemagne". They're probably going to be one of the biggest draws during the festival, so thankfully they're playing three times over the long weekend.

Catholic Action

Venue - (a) Brighthelm
(b)Green Door Store

Date/Time - (a) Thursday May 19th - 2:30pm
(b) Friday May 20th - 7:15pm

Why do I care?
Once you get over the crushing disappointment when you learn that they're not going to be saying mass during their performance, you'll be smitten by the Glasgow band's glam-garage stompers. They've picked up slots supporting The Libertines & Swim Deep, and if they can put only half as much energy into their live sets as they do on their wonderful single "L.U.V", then they'll be a real treat indeed.

Ciaran Lavery

Venue - (a) Spiegeltent
(b) Patterns Upstairs

Date/Time - (a) Friday May 20th - 2:30pm
(b) Saturday May 21st - 8:30pm

Why do I care?
Ciaran Lavery has been catapulted into being Northern Ireland's most promising singer/songwriters after picking up an  unprecedented yet very much deserved following on Spotify. With a new album on its way at the end of the month ("Let Bad In"), filled with songs with a more commercial bent than what's come before, it's a great opportunity to catch Ciaran in a more intimate venue before his inevitable promotion to larger arenas. 


Venue - (a) Spiegeltent
(b) The Hope & Ruin

Date/Time - (a) Friday May 20th - 12:45pm
(b) Saturday, May 21st - 10:30pm

Why do I care?
1/3 of massively underrated Belfast band Cashier No.9, the duo released their fantastic Bella Union-supported debut album "Scan The Blue" a few months back, and Brighton is the ideal place to catch their psychedelic tinged rock.

Have You Ever Seen The Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS?

Venue - (a) Latest Music Bar
(b) Queens Hotel
(c) Bar Rogue

Date/Time - (a) Thursday, May 19th - 7:45pm
(b) Friday, May 20th - 2:30pm
(c) Thursday 19th May - 2:40pm (Alternative Escape)

Why do I care?
In all honesty, there's not much we know about this group, but we're including the Finnish band in our list on the basis that they have got the stand-out band name of any of the artists taking part in this year's festival (the runners-up were Icelandic band When Airy Met Fairy, and London artist Grumble Bee). 


Venue - (a) Green Door Store

Date/Time - (a) Friday, 20th May - 9:00pm

Why do I care?
The London band won us over with the 80s inspired gloom-pop single "Baby's Alright", which is already a top contender for our favourite song of 2016.

Johnny Lloyd

Venue - (a) Spiegeltent

Date/Time - (a) Saturday, May 21st - 10:00pm

Why do I care?
The former frontman of underrated Britpop revivalists Tribes has gone solo and signed a deal with Frank Turner's record label, and has proven on songs like "Hello Death" that he still knows his way around a great tune.


Venue - (a) The Pop-Up Stage
(b) Brighton Museum

Date/Time - (a) Thursday, May 19th - 4:00pm
(b) Thursday, May 19th - 8:30pm

Why do I care?
We were very much smitten by his folksy single "Aeroplane" a few years back. He released an album back in October, which we must admit passed us by completely, but Brighton should give us an opportunity to re-acquaint ourselves with his lovely music.

Pleasure Beach

Venue - (a) Spiegeltent
(b) Queens Hotel

Date/Time - (a) Friday, May 20th - - 3:30pm
(b) Friday, May 20th - 7:30pm

Why do I care?
Pleasure Beach are one of the most promising bands to come out of Northern Ireland in the past 12 months, with their driving rock sound winning fans across the blogosphere and beyond. Songs like the Springsteen-esque "Go" and "Magic Mountain" demonstrate why the have been such a hot property.


Venue - (a) Spiegeltent

Date/Time - (a) Friday, May 20th - 1:30pm

Why do I care?
REWS is a duo fronted by Northern Ireland's Shauna Tohill, who had been a blog favourite under her previous guise of Silhouette. The new project's a little more rock-orientated than the music that she's released in the past, but she's still got the knack for a great pop melody under those fuzzy guitars.

Rukhsana Merrise

Venue - (a) Komedia

Date/Time - (a) Friday, 20th May - 8:00pm

Why do I care?
Because "Money" was a great wee song.

Ten Fé

Venue - (a) Sticky Mike's Frog Bar
(b) The Hope & Ruin

Date/Time - (a) Friday May 20th - 2:15pm
(b) Friday, May 20th - 9:30pm

Why do I care?
The London duo beat out a lot of stiff competition to be crowned The Metaphorical Boat's #1 song of 2015 with "Make Me Better". As a live act, they are top notch, with the most recent gig of theirs we witnessed calling to mind acts like Primal Scream with how enveloped we got into it. 

The Zolas

Venue - (a) Green Door Store
(b) The Hope & Ruin

Date/Time - (a) Thursday, May 19th - 2:45pm
(b) Saturday, May 21st - The Hope & Ruin - 11:30pm

Why do I care?
We very much enjoyed their space-rock album "Ancient Mars" album back in 2012, and in recent weeks we've found ourselves smitten by their more poppy single "Swooner", taken from their 3rd album of the same name. The band seem to have been on the peripherals of greater recognition for some time, and their performances at The Great Escape could be the catalyst for greater things

Saturday 7 May 2016

Tuskany - Shapes

Back in February, Belfast trio/duo* Tuskany got a lot of people excited with their debut single, the synth-poptastic "Better Time", picking up a lot of blog love and local love along the way.

Their follow-up single is "Shapes", a song that follows on nicely from the synthy stylings of their debut, and sees the group starting to forge out their own particular musical identity. Dollops of electronic sounds, catchy choruses, and a towering (and gloriously unfashionable!) guitar solo make this a fine addition to the band's ever growing wall of sounds. Like Roqueford or Camembert, "Shapes" is cheesy, but wrapped up in fashionable attire.

*The press image for the band's debut single presented Tuskany as a trio, however the promo pics for this release seem to depict them as a duo. Although they still play live as a trio, one of them has taken a step back from 'official member' status, so technically there's both two and three members of the band. Hopefully that's all well and clear.