album review ~ our krypton son ~ 'fleas & diamonds'

by 10:35

Our Krypton Son
For Fans Of: Andy Schauf, The Divine Comedy, Leonard Cohen

Derry singer-songwriter Chris McConaghy, Our Krypton Son's debut record sparked a tidal wave of acclaim too substantial to be ignored. Whilst Electric Mainline presenter Stephen McCauley claimed him to be "one of the best songwriters in the country",  cultural magazine/website The Thin Air went one further, calling the eponymous record "unparalleled in this country at present". Sophomoric effort 'Fleas and Diamonds' takes all the gentle genius of that first effort, whilst upping the dosage of love and loss just enough to break your heart even more than the first time around.

Haunting opener 'Winter Taunts Spring' eases to life a record that sits beautifully between Buckley and Cohen. Other highlights include the Divine Comedy inspired 'Alexandria' and the brilliantly titled 'Falling In Love Is A Suicide Mission'.  

Oddly, Our Krypton Son's delicate take on the Weezer classic 'Buddy Holly', which could so easily have gone wrong, lives almost as long in the memory as his originals; the touching re-arrangement sounding like a future wedding classic from the first listen.

On a record swimming in carefully constructed layers, Our Krypton Son has manages to maintain an endearing simplicity throughout 'Fleas & Diamonds'. The reference points feel warm, comforting even, as McConaghy's original voice is never buried by his influences, only enhanced by them, making for an all around gem of a record.

Taylor Johnson

spotlight/track review ~ 'flawed' (live from the bbc) ~ foreign owl

by 09:49

Foreign Owl
For Fans Of: Royal Blood, Pixies, Axis Of

It's probably fair to say the tiny village of Burt, in County Donegal, isn't known for it's pioneering alt-rock. It may also be fair to say the tiny village of Burt, in County Donegal, isn't really known for anything at all; yet it is here we find 'Foreign Owl', a brand new three piece hoping to change that perception of their home village as quickly as possible.

Despite being a new outfit to the local scene, Foreign Owl were almost immediately picked up by BBC Radio Foyle, where Stephen McCauley was quick to praise their innovative song structures and originality.

Explosions of noise burst amidst the delicate melodies found in their verses, this contrast proving pivotal to the Foreign Owl sound. The featured track from their BBC electric session, 'Flawed'dances between heavy riffs and quiet contemplation, the musicianship at their core watertight as ever.

If they can maintain the ferocity of their live performances on future releases, Foreign Owl may give the people of Burt something to be proud of very soon indeed...

Taylor Johnson

To watch their live session with BBC Radio Foyle click here.

track of the week ~ 'signifigance' ~ the winter passing

by 05:25

The Winter Passing
For fans of: Yuck, Candy Hearts, Cloud Nothings

As one of Ireland's most exciting bands, Tipperary natives The Winter Passing have had a significant weight of expectation thrusted on their young shoulders in recent times; and whilst for some this expectation can turn into pressure, The Winter Passing use it as rocket fuel on 'Significance', their latest single and possibly best release to date.

A DIY band at heart, they've built a loyal following through tours with the likes of Modern Baseball, The Front Bottoms and Moose Blood, achieving plaudits wherever they've been. Explosive live shows, palpable energy and radiant enthusiasm prove integral to The Winter Passing experience, a difficult thing to capture on record. On this occasion they manage to do so effortlessly, as brother and sister vocalists Rob and Katie Flynn sound happier than ever before, even if their lyrics tell a different story.

'Significance', their first release since debut LP 'A Different Space Of Mind', is proof this is a band evolving at their own pace and on their own terms, as shimmering guitars merge beautifully with a driving bass line. Lyrically we see shades of self doubt dipped in colour as Rob sings "Sunshine follows my lonely mind, hold your hand til you let go...". 

We also hear one of the most uplifting chorus' of the year so far, as Katie Flynn's resplendent vocals explode alongside the noise beneath them. We hear clever dynamics at play too, making you wait for the final burst before fading to black.

"Stay with me! I'll try to be all you need"

A fresh and exciting step on from their first record, 'Significance' somehow manages to feel nostalgic too, as if the soundtrack to a happy time you've never had (or haven't had yet).

As an introduction to new EP 'Double Exposure' (released 21st April), this is a near perfect first impression.

Taylor Johnson
Pre order 'Double Exposure' here.

album review ~ 'cicatrix' ~ over the hill collective

by 04:20

Various Artists / Over The Hill Collective
For fans of: The Travelling Wilburys, Kate Bush, Tom Petty

Based in the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast, the 'Over The Hill Collective' are a band of older musicians collaborating and writing original music purely for the love of it.

The brain child of Oh Yeah's outreach development officer and lead guitarist Paul Kane, the concept grew out of a desire to get older musicians involved in music in a safe, exciting and productive environment. Together they write and record original albums entirely from scratch, with each member contributing a track.

As wonderful a concept as that is, the reality of taking a group of musicians, who haven't been playing together for very long, and expecting them to gel on a record together, is always going to be a tall order. Thankfully 'Cicatrix' proves to be a boisterous, spirit raising throwdown with enough heart to keep you listening straight through to the end...

What makes 'Cicatrix' such a joy to listen to is it's utter spontaneity. Any preconceptions you may have about an album written by a group called 'The Over The Hill Collective' is thrown out the window completely by Bernard Jackson's foot to the floor opener 'Next Time'; An upbeat strummer that could sit as comfortably on an Elvis Costello record as it could on (wait for it) the latest Weezer album, as is Rivers Cuomo's love of The Beach Boys and classic pop melodies.

Other highlights include the hauntingly beautiful ragtime of Liz Kelly's 'Jump In', which warns of the choppy waters of a failed relationship. All the while Kelly's theatrical charm remains reminiscent of American pop songstress Regina Spektor, a fifties swinging beat gently tiding the track to it's conclusion.

Paul Kane's own contribution 'Wash My Hands' provides a folk-driven stomp to proceedings, complete with the most catchy chorus about someone coping with OCD as your likely to hear this year. Elsewhere Rab Wishart's country-tinged ode to missing home could be straight out of a Disney film, whilst Neil Lavery and Danielle Ireland's 'If I Could' brings a floating Pink Floyd-effect to an album brimming with influences from across the decades, and most genres.

'Ultimatly 'Cicatrix' is a record of such unbridled, eclectic, joy that it's near impossible not to take something away from it. It serves as an example too, that it's never to late to go after your dreams, as summed up perfectly by twenty one pilots frontman Tyler Joseph during his Grammys acceptance speech recently;

"Anyone, from anywhere, can do anything"

Taylor Johnson

For more information on Over The Hill & how you can get involved, click here.

Listen to 'Cicatrix' on Spotify here: //

women's work photocall

by 05:06

The Oh Yeah Music Centre's fantastic Women's Work project is coordinating a fun, exciting and ambitious photo call on Saturday 11th March!

They are inviting as many women involved in music and other creative projects as possible to be in a photo which will then go on to feature in an upcoming festival booklet, to be launched at the end of March (date tbc). Dates and content for Women's Work will all be revealed at the launch.

The final photo will also be added to the walls of the Oh Yeah Music Exhibition. 

Want to get involved? Simply turn up at the Oh Yeah Music Centre with a piece of paper stating your name, job title and/or involvement with music; this is in order to ensure you get a mention in the booklet. 

Don't miss out!

Date: Saturday 11th March
Time: 3pm-4pm

Location: Oh Yeah. 

Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'alright' ~ life goals

by 04:15

Name: Life Goals
For fans of: PUP,  Joyce Manor, The Menzingers

Belfast three piece Life Goals have returned to the studio in fine form, unleashing new single 'Alright' into the world just before their latest tour announcement.

A hook-laden suck punch of a track, lyrically we hear frontman Decky McBride wrestling with the truth, and what he wants to be the truth."He could be corrupted, but he could be convinced...that everything's alright", as Life Goals third person storytelling is allowed the space to make it's deserved impact.

Driven by a no-nonsense bass line and an instantly chantable chorus, 'Alright' dances between remorse and panache the way all great pop-punk songs do, showing a slightly more vulnerable side to the band that thundered out of the blocks with 'Wreck Less Nature' last summer.

In all, it's a welcome return to a band rightfully earning their reputation as one of the countries best pop-punk bands.

The official single release gig will take place in Voodoo, Belfast on the 25th February.

Taylor Johnson
Catch Life Goals live here:

30/03 Galway, Roisin Dubh with Anna's Anchor
31/03 Dublin, Fibber Magees with Anna's Anchor
01/04 Belfast, The Barge with Empty Lungs and Anna's Anchor07/04 Limerick, The Loft with Empty Lungs and Anna's Anchor

spotlight ~ paper/boy ~ 'guerilla therapy'

by 06:28

Name: Paper/Boy
For fans of: Robocobra Quartet, Cloud Nothings, The Libertines

When I think back to being fifteen/sixteen few things of any significance come to mind.

Football until dark, my first solo trips to Belfast to meet friends, perhaps? The most creative plans I had were to avoid doing homework! Yet hidden somewhere in the tranquil hills of Donegal is 'Paper/Boy', a ferociously ambitious two-piece of that age, creating exciting, fuzzed-up punk with a message.

Unlike punk two-pieces who have came before, (Slaves, Drenge, Royal Blood etc.) Paper/Boy have no clear frontman/drummer dynamic. Instead beat maker Lochláinn Kelly and guitarist Joshua McNutt share both the stage and vocal duties in perfect harmony, the Donegal duo's equal enthusiasm breathing life into songs that seem both lyrically and musically mature beyond their young years.

Having caught them at a recent gig up North, the bands confidence was clear from the first fuzzed chords of Talking Heads' classic, 'Psycho Killer', before a barrage of original material already well developed.

Amongst those original tracks 'Guerilla Therapy's gently swinging verses and Libertines-y chorus stood out a mile. The dry wit of the lyric shows tremendous promise too, songwriter Lochláinn Kelly's emo-tinged knack for a one-liner evoking the same sort of maudlin prose Dylan Baldi made his own on Cloud Nothing's debut 'Turning Off'.

"I don't believe in god, I'm my only saviour...she's trying to climb inside of me"

Indeed the similarities between the two projects seem intertwined at times, both have a passion for the rougher edges of indie, whilst holding on to the pop melodies of the bands which inspired them. In Paper/Boy's case, this is the likes of Bell X1, Radiohead and most devotedly, Car Seat Headrest, the emotional boundaries of Kelly's prose becoming all the more obvious with each reference point.

Provided they continue to channel their inner-punks in the polite, articulate manner they have so far, anything could happen to Paper/Boy. Their bare wit captured the crowd at their most recent gig, whilst the energy kept them there.

Though few musicians manage to hang on to the same band they were in since the age of fifteen, Paper/Boy have something undeniably exciting. You can be sure these two young punks will be dishing out tinnitus for years to come.

Taylor Johnson

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