Tuesday 28 February 2017

The Metaphorical Boat Spotify Playlist - January/February 2017

For those of you who like your musical recommendations in playlist-able Spotify form, on a bimonthly basis The Metaphorical Boat posts a selection of songs that we have been enjoying over the prior eight weeks or so, containing songs that we've written about, new songs that we haven't written about but are enjoying nonetheless, and a few older but fantastic tracks that are currently floating our Metaphorical Boat.

Below you can find our playlist of songs that we really enjoyed in January & February 2017. If you like what you hear, or just want another playlist to add to your growing list of playlists, then we really hope that you'll take the time to visit the playlist on Spotify and give it a follow. You never know, your new favourite song of all time could be somewhere on this playlist!

This month's playlist feature songs from established artists like London Grammar, Elbow,  Japandroids, Goldfrapp & Imagine Dragons, songs from newer bands such as The Mysterons, Ten Fé, The Shimmer Band, OUTLYA & Childcare, plus local acts like PATHS, Tiernan, Pleasure Beach, Jealous of The Birds with Ryan Vail & Callum Stewart. Plus just for the heck of it, we've added "City of Stars" from the not-winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture. Lots of great music from lots of great people for your ear-based amusement.

In addition, as of 2017 The Metaphorical Boat has started a rotating playlist of songs, which we will update on a regular basis. We've had it in the side-bar of the site for a few weeks now, but this is our official acknowledgement of its existence. Yay!

 As soon as we come across a new song that we like, it will automatically go to the top of this playlist, and we will remove a song from the playlist as soon as it has been on it for 2 months, so if you give it a follow, you will always have a fine conveyor belt of fantastic music courtesy of us at The Metaphorical Boat. You can find the playlist as it stands as of now below -

Sunday 26 February 2017

Bokito - Better At Getting Worse

The first time I came across the name of the band Bokito, I automatically assumed they were Japanese. I saw their name on the website for The Great Escape, and based on my incredibly rudimentary knowledge of the syllable structure of the Japanese language, assumed that was where they were from.

However, it turns out that I am wrong, as Bokito are in fact based in London, with their lead singer hailing from Kilkenny. In fact, I am now even less sure that bokito is in fact a Japanese word still in use. I've found a dictionary that seems to suggest that it's an onomatopoeic word for the snapping of fingers or a radish. However, as that dictionary dates from 1892, I cannot be sure if it is still in use in contemporary Japan. If you know better than me as to whether that is indeed the case, please let me know, for I am genuinely curious.

But back to Bokito the band. They describe their sound as a "tropical indie", which straight away means you're likely to get instant Vampire Weekend comparisons. "Better At Getting Worse" is the first track to come across our radar, and it's a decent introduction to the band, filled with organ sounds , unconventional Afro-beat rhythms, and vocals that sound surprisingly close to those of Marcus Mumford. It sounds like they'd be great fun to see live, which hopefully we'll get the chance to do at The Great Escape in May, now than I know who they are.

"Better at Getting Worse" is out now.

Friday 24 February 2017

PATHS - Right Beside You/Last One Standing

It's barely been a month since we first wrote about PATHS, the electronic solo project of Northern Irish music mainstay Jules Shaw. Her first single, "Neoprene", has gone down incredibly well, picking up a smorgasbord of love right across the spectrum, getting played on Radio 1 and being picked up by some lovely other blogs.

Since then, we've had the pleasure off seeing PATHS' first gig, which took place during the Output Festival in Belfast at Aether & Echo. The music comes across really well on stage, with the loops and guitars complimented by a visually impressive light display (which we later learned took several months to program in anticipation of this gig), and it seemed to go down well with the crowd, which is always a good sign on a debut gig.

Given the warm reception received since its debut, it looks as if PATHS is hoping to strike whilst the iron is hot by released a brand new A/B side single mere weeks after her first single debuted. It's a bold move, but given the strength of the songs to come out of it, a pretty nifty one.

The A-side of the single is "Right Beside You", a song that PATHS says is about 'digital distraction'. The song is built around an off-kilter woodwind sample (or possibly string? We're not 100% certain), which is complimented by layers upon layers of harsh synth sounds over a triplet-beat.

However, it is the B-side of the single that we are most excited about, "Last One Standing". When we saw PATHS live, it was the song that really stood out in the set, and we're really glad that a full recording has come out so quickly, as we believe that it's going to be the song that's going to help PATHS make the next big breakthrough in her career.

Why? Because it's so darn infectious, that's why. When we find ourselves humming the main riff of a song for hours after we hear it for the first time, we know that we're on to a winner. There's a few tropical-house elements floating around "Last One Standing", and as well has having a few 80s influences thrown into a modern sounding production (those drum rushes at 2:49 are to die for). It's a pity that it's being classed as the B-side of this release, as it is our favourite release from PATHS to date, but we're confident that once a few more people catch wind of "Last One Standing", it is going to blow up in a massive way.

Both "Right Beside You" & "Last One Standing" are available to download/stream now from all the usual outlets.

Thursday 23 February 2017

Childcare - Kiss?

We're well aware at The Metaphorical Boat that many of the artists that we write about on this site don't derive their income solely from their musical exploits (although if we had our way, we would ensure that was the case, but that's another story), and that many of them work in other jobs to either subsidize or pay for the music that they create.

What is less common however is for said artists to put the fact that they work in another career at the front and centre of their musical work. That's what Ed Cares, who outside of music works full time as a nanny, did when he formed the band CHILDCARE. They've released a few singles over the past few years, and have supported Bastille on tour, although it is with their latest single that they've really grabbed us.

"Kiss?" was written after an incident Ed experienced whilst picking up the children he looks after from school, when an attempt to greet one of the waiting mums didn't go exactly the way he planned. The song features a great male/female vocal interplay over a poppy indie-rock beat, a great song about a moment of sheer awkwardness.

"Kiss?" is out now, and the band are due to play at The Great Escape in Brighton in May.

Sunday 19 February 2017

Jon Solari - Sistine Chapel

Having followed the local Northern Irish music scene for some time now, it is not rare for us to see bands come to their natural conclusion, before splintering off into many numerous different projects, many of which of a solo nature. We've written before about the band New Ancestors, and more recently about how one of their members turned his music towards recording as Brash Isaac.

Now, another member of that band has gone down the solo route, although in Jon Solari's case, he's decided to record under his own name. "Sistine Chapel" is the first song released from him, and it's a great little introduction. It's not a million miles away from the raucous folk-rock that he was making whilst working with The 1930s many moons ago, but with added polish and with a really strong chorus to boot.

"Sistine Chapel" is taken from the E.P "Guilt Trip", which is out now.

Saturday 18 February 2017

OUTLYA - The Light

We at The Metaphorical Boat were fans of the group Port Isla from the moment that a "Sinking Ship" first appeared on our radar in 2012. They released a few great singles after that, as well as impressing us at The Great Escape in 2014, but in recent times the band went quiet, and for all intents & purposes, Port Isla have been permanently docked on the Bay of Musical Break-Ups.

Thankfully, it looks as if a few shoots have sprung out of its carcass, as Will Bloomfield has formed a new band, the trio OUTLYA. They've got some weight behind them already, sharing the same management company as James Bay & George Ezra, and have just released their debut single, "The Light".

The song shows their intent right out of the gate, with its expansive sound sounding like Coldplay at their most anthemic ("Violet Hill" would be the nearest touchstone in our heads). It's a great opening statement of intent, and given its early buzz (the song made its way onto a rather influential Spotify playlist on its day of release), it could see OUTLYA achieve the success that Port Isla never got to enjoy.

"The Light" is out now.

Monday 13 February 2017

Chordblossom Kickstart Competition 2017

Our good friends over at Chordblossom have launched their annual Kickstart competition, which is open to Northern Irish bands and artists, and has a great smorgasbord of prizes up for grabs for acts who are starting off on their career. If you're eligible to take part, we would encourage you to submit an application, as we have seen how beneficial it has been for those artists who have taken part.

Press release follows:

We are pleased to announce that our highly anticipated competition for local bands and musicians across Northern Ireland is returning for 2017.

As usual, we will be offering the eventual winner of the competition, the opportunity to "kickstart" their year with an impressive package of prizes including a single recording, music video and festival slot up for grabs.

For 2017, we are pleased to be partnering with Help Musicians NI to launch the competition. Help Musicians UK is the leading UK charity for professional musicians and offer support and advice to musicians at different stages of their careers. They launched themselves in Northern Ireland last year and we feel that their expertise will be of a real benefit to the musicians taking part in Kickstart. 

Our winners from last year, Brand New Friend, went on to have an incredibly successful year with their music being played on Radio One and BBC 6 Music, their debut EP receiving critical acclaim and obtaining a number of significant support slots throughout the year. Other notable winners of the competition include SOAK, Lauren Bird and In An Instant.

Prizes ► 

 Professional Career Advice - Courtesy of Third Bar Artist Development

► Single Recording - Courtesy of Millbank Studios

►  Video for your Single - Courtesy of Dog Kennel Productions

 Festival Slot - Courtesy of Stendhal Festival of Art

 First Play of your Single - Courtesy of Electric Mainline

 CD Duplication - Courtesy of Wilson Creative

 Single Artwork - Courtesy of Studio McCooke

 Professional Photoshoot - Courtesy of Ciara McMullan Photography

 Single Launch Gig in Belfast - Courtesy of Chordblossom

 Support Slot in Portrush - Courtesy of Atlantic Live Lounge

 Support Slot in Derry/Londonderry - Courtesy of Bennigans Introducing

How To Enter ► 

You must be a musician or band originally from Northern Ireland and have not released a full length album. If you meet this criteria please send an email to kickstart@chordblossom.com with the following information:

- Band/Musician Name
- Hometown
- Influences
- A Social Media Link

- An MP3 of your best track

Timeline For The Competition ► 

- Monday 6th February 2017 - Competition announced and entry opens
- Sunday 26th February 2017 - Entries Close at 8PM
- Monday 6th March 2017 - Top 20 Announced
- Monday 13th March 2017 - 4 Finalists Announced
- End of March (TBC) – Showcase Gig  & Winner Announced

Monday 6 February 2017

Superfood - Double Dutch

Now here's an unexpected delight from a group that we weren't sure we'd hear from again.

We were first taken in by Birmingham band Superfood back in 2013 when we were taken in by their self-titled single, and having had the chance to catch them live, and having seen the band sign to the respected Infectious Records, we were hopeful that they would be the band that would help lead the Britpop revival. Alas, their debut album "Don't Say That" came and went without much of a fuss in 2014, and having not heard much from them in that time, we'd assumed that the band had fizzled out.

Well, imagine our surprise to learn that not only are Superfood very much a going concern, but there have been many developments, some of which of an exciting nature, within the group. First, the band has paired back to a core duo of Dom Ganderson & Ryan Malcolm. Secondly, the band have signed a record deal with Dirty Hit, the label who have enjoyed success in recent years with The 1975 & Wolf Alice among others.

And lastly, the band have released their first single in three years with "Double Dutch", a song that marks a radical departure for the band. As the song is built around a jump-rope vocal chant sample, you might immediately be prone to comparisons with The Go! Team. However, the group instead use it as the basis for a groove-laden, Balearic-ish tune that may be more suited to a Ministy of Sound Chill-Out compilation album than a Shine one, although the use of guitar still harks back to the Superfood of yore.

Pulling off a re-invention isn't the easiest trick to pull off, but on the strength of "Double Dutch", Superfood appears to have just done it. Whether they can draw in new fans whilst still pleasing their existing ones though will be the big task for them in the next few months.

"Double Dutch" is out now.

Saturday 4 February 2017

Paths - Neoprene

Paths is the new solo project of Julianne Shawe, a name that may be familiar to followers of local Northern Irish music over the past few years. She was one half of electro-rockers Nakatomi Towers, a favourite of ours who predated this blog (a few of their songs can still be found online), and more recently was a member of Go Swim, responsible for one of our favourite songs of 2014.

Having now gone solo as Paths, her debut single gives us a great insight into what music we can expect. Produced by Rory Friers from And So I Watch You From Afar, "Neoprene", which we have since learned is a synthetic rubber, which among other things is used for making wetsuits, sees Julianne move back in a more electronic direction, with pulsating drum & bass beats melding with her vocals effortlessly, with elements of Jamie xx, Grimes, and New Portals firmly in the mix. It's a starkly striking debut, and one that could see Paths stand out of one of the most exciting new local acts of the year.

"Neoprene" is out now. Paths' first gig will be on February 16th at Output Belfast.