Wednesday 27 July 2016

Anteros - The Beat

Of all the new acts that we've come across in 2016, perhaps our favourite of the bunch has been the London four-piece Anteros. They first grabbed our attention back in April with their fabulously catchy single "Breakfast", and our love for them was solidified when we got the chance to see them at The Great Escape in Brighton. After seeing them in the flesh, we predicted that one song in particular in their set was so good, that it would end up being their breakthrough single when they got around to recording it.

Well, the time has now come to see whether our prediction will come true or not, for Anteros have just released the song in question, "The Beat", and it's just as good as when we first saw it live. The song is an infectious little pop tune with a chorus so infectious that it'll be stuck inside your head for so long that even the world's most powerful cotton bud will be unable to scrub it from your brain. The song, and the band in general, will inevitably be compared to Blondie, although for our money the song is more in line with the sound of The Noisettes during the period when they were immovable from the upper echelons of the chart.

So will "The Beat" be Anteros' breakthrough single? The answer to that question is out of our hands, but if we had a say in it, it would be a resounding 'yes'.

"The Beat" will be released as part of the "Breakfast" E.P, which is out on September 19th.

Sunday 24 July 2016

The Metaphorical Boat is 5 years old

So here we have it, five whole years of running The Metaphorical Boat. Where has the time gone? (No really, where has the time gone? Can any physicists help me with that conundrum?). When I first registered the name on Blogger just so I could write some half-formed thoughts about a band I heard in a bar in Nashville, I had no idea that it would still still be going strong after such a length of time, but here we are.

The five years of running TMB has been one of my most rewarding experiences, and it has led to some great opportunities. I've got to write for some of my favourite publications, including getting to write gig reviews for the website for one of my favourite radio show, Across The Line (although admittedly, looking back at some of my reviews from their archive, there's a few things I might have changed if I were reviewing them today. The 3th paragraph of this one, for example).

I've also had the opportunity to meet a lot of great people who had first come across me as a result of this blog, and whom I would never had had the opportunity to meet if I had just kept my opinions about music to myself. And of course, there is so much fantastic, enriching music that I would not have come across unless this blog existed, and so to every maker of music, whether you're signed to the biggest record label in the world or are self-sufficient, whether you're making music solely for money or solely for the heck of it, you have my most sincere gratitude.

Music blogging has changed a bit since I started 5 years ago. The amount of music blogs appears to have steadily decreased in that time - The Hype Machine is currently tracking 701 music blogs (including yours truly), which is down by a few hundred since 2011, and it seems as if people are more likely to turn to music recommendation services like Spotify for new music than they are a music blog. However, that doesn't mean that the two services cannot happily coexist.

Up until the end of the year I was a bit of a Spotify sceptic, only really using it if there's a song I can't hear anywhere else. However, since then I've been won over by their Discover Weekly feature (which recommends songs to you based on what you listen to), and as a result I'm listening to a lot more new music than I had previously, which as a result has filtered into me writing about more music on the blog. It's also helped to introduce me to music that I otherwise would have immediate dismissed. I didn't realise that I enjoyed Tuareg music, but then along comes a band like Imarhan on my playlist and I'm immediately hooked -

And Spotify recommendation playlists end up relying on blogs too. I've had a few cases where someone has come across a song on Spotify, loved it, then visited TMB to learn more about the artist and get some more context into them. And there's evidence that if a song is getting a buzz on blogs, then Spotify are more likely to favorably add the song to one of their highly influential, lucrative playlists, even if the band is unsigned. So there's still room for music blogs, even if the focus appears to have shifted slightly.

So here's to the first 5 years of The Metaphorical Boat. Hopefully there'll be several more to come, even if we've slowed things down a bit for the last wee while. Thanks to every one of you who has ever taken the time to read any of our thoughts on the blog, and thanks to all you wonderful makers of fine music, without whom we would never have got past day 1. To see us out, here is what is possibly our favourite song of 2016 so far, "Auld Wives" by Bear's Den, a song that mixes folk music with 80s synth-pop so majestically -

Friday 22 July 2016

Dreambeaches - Habits

"Habits" by Buffalo based quartet Dreambeaches sounds like one of those indie-rock songs that you think you've heard on an advert for some really exciting everyday thing, or being used as bed music on Flog It or Homes Under The Hammer for some inexplicable reason, for which you usually can't place who the band nor what the song are (not that there's anything wrong with that - the PRS payments for such placements are rather generous, one believes). We don't know if "Habits" has actually been used for those purposes yet, but if it is, then the advertisers/producers can do so in the knowledge that they've got a pretty great wee song on their hands. It's a punchy, sarcastic ode to the minor travails of modern life, and a rather nice little one at that.

"Habits" is out now.

Sunday 17 July 2016

Owen Denvir - Green Light

This photo above was taken in the 1930s by a photographer living in the Midwest of the United States of America, depicting a young sharecropper of that period. Unfortunately, the devastation to his crops caused by the catastropic effects of the Dust Bowl proved too much for Oklahoma native Owen Denvir, and he finally succumbed to illness in 1937, aged just 26. Modern technology has been able to enhance the picture to make it fully coloured, so we can have a good idea of what Owen Denvir would look like if he were still alive today.

Wait, that image ISN'T of a Grapes of Wrath era farmer, and is actually that of a Belfast-based musician? Okay, we'll start again.

Singer/songwriter/viola-wielder Owen Denvir has been slowly building up a following over the past year or so since receiving a push through the Oh Yeah! Centre's Scratch My Progress scheme. He released a well-received E.P "Daydreamer" back in October, and he has had some viral success with several of his multi-tracked cover videos, covering artists as diverse as Jackson Five, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and in a self-deprecating manner, Amy Winehouse.

Now he has released a brand new single, "Green Light", a song which should make a few more people fall under his spell. The song is a passionate, tender singer/songwriter-y song in the mold of James Bay or Passenger, which is punctuated by bursts of Owen's viola fiddling. Plus, it's hard not to be won over by a song that features an uplifting Carubian choir.

"Green Light" is out now.

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Brash Isaac - In The Dark

Brash Isaac is the nom de plume of Andrew Cameron, who was previously the drummer for Northern Irish folk mainstays New Ancestors. His first single under the new name, "In The Dark", has already picked up quite a bit of love online, and it's not hard to hear why. The song plays up his roots in the local folk scene, and compliments this by taking it into a more alt-rock territory. It also reminds us a little bit of "Hangingaround" by Counting Crows in places, which we don't think is a bad thing at all. It's an irresistible little debut.

"In The Dark" is out now.

Monday 4 July 2016

Hello Bear - We Held Hands Once, But Then She Got Embarassed

Hailing from Norwich, 4-piece Hello Bear have been plying their trade for a few years now with their quirky power-pop tunes, releasing two albums worth of songs, many of which have titles longer than the songs themselves (my personal favourite being "I Dropped The Screw In The Tuna", a reference that some Nickelodeon kids from the 90s might get), and have played as support for one of our favourite bands, Shonen Knife.

Their latest single follows their penchant for long-winded titles. "We Held Hands Once, But Then She Got Embarrassed" is a fun little pop-punk number that compares being in love to eating lots and lots of sweeties, which given that our dream gig is one in which every table has bowls of Haribo which can be consumed at our own leisure, very much floats our metaphorical boat. It's a hearty piece of uncynical, Green Day/Weezer-esque power punk with a catchy chorus an in infectious optimism.

One suspects though that "Sticky Kisses" would have made for a better, snappier song title, but hey, what do we know?

"We Held Hands Once..." is out now.

Sunday 3 July 2016

In An Instant - Where The Demons and the Devils Speak

Given that Bangor band In An Instant have had songs featured in our Top 50 of the year from 2013 to 2015 inclusive, it is safe to say that any new material to come from them will be greeted by much rejoicing amongst these parts. And so it has come to pass that the band have unleashed a new single upon us, "Where The Demons and the Devil Speak", a title that makes it seem as if they band have made a surprising shift into black metal, but musically is very much in the In An Instant mold.

"Where The Demons..." follows in the archetype of IAI songs of yore, although in comparison to their previous songs the electronics are a lot more subtle, and the guitars are a little heavier, but in general it still retains the accessible, infectious, dance-y indie-rock that made us fall for the band in the first place.

"Where The Demons and the Devil Speak" is released on 8th July.