track of the week ~ 'dreams' ~ salad boyz

by 02:51

SALAD BOYZ ~ 'Dreams'
For fans of: Weezer, The Descendents

For those unfamiliar with Belfast punks SALAD BOYZ, let us offer a brief introduction. Formed in early 2015, these four best friends have forged a reputation as one of the most exhilarating live bands in the local scene today. Never seen without their matching home made t-shirts (depicting what can only be described as "bad ass vegetables") and known for tackling contemporary world issues within their lyrics (their song about the David Cameron fiasco of last year springs to mind...), SALAD BOYZ certainly do things their way and have been recognised because of it.

Though to paint this band with the novelty brush would be a huge injustice indeed. For every 18 second song about "getting kicked in the balls" (see fan favourite "Balls") there's a track like 'LoudCrowdWowed', a Weezer styled celebration of anonymity, or 'T-4-2' the Volume Control Records released love-song which sounds straight off an indie film soundtrack.

New release 'Dreams' has been a long time coming. Making it's debut around the same time as 'T-4-2', it's a full throttle indie-punk anthem about never quite falling out of love, no matter how much you try. Lyrically and musically, it's the most mature we've seen of SALAD BOYZ. Frontman Tommy Haghighi's on stage wit is matched by his lyrics here, all the while retaining a certain romantic tragedy we've not heard before from this band.

"I don't think that I'll ever see the light...but the darkness scares me"

When coupled with the aforementioned 'T-4-2', as is the case with their latest two track EP, we see these Boyz in a new light. The Descendents influenced, foot-to-the-floor punk hasn't been lost in their more emotional setting on this EP. It's more heartfelt than ever and rather crucially, we don't have any other bands doing it in Belfast right now.

Grab your ghetto-vegetable tee's while you can, forget about your worries and get down to a SALAD BOYZ show next chance you get. You might just feel something.

Taylor Johnson

The 'Dreams 4 Two' EP is released today ~ head over to

In their own words...

'It's definitely a break-up song, focusing on that feeling when you know it's over, you know you don't want it back, but you can't help still feeling sad, still missing that person. You're basically trying to get used to life without them, but they're still occasionally on your mind (or in your dreams) even if you wish they weren't. Frustrating, ey?

In regards to the 'Molly's Lips' cover at the end, we realised that the chords were almost the same and the lyrics were pretty suited to it, so we threw that in at the end with the original intention of just playing it live, but it stuck and there's no way of getting rid of it now!"

~  frontman Tommy Haghighi 
Salad-core in full flight

track of the week ~ 'at a loss' ~ mylk

by 06:38

M Y L K ~ 'At A Loss'
For fans of: Los Campesinos, Weezer

Flying straight into their recorded debut with a sing-along chorus and feedback-y guitars, M Y L K's intention of being your new favourite band is made clear from the very start. Brimming with frenetic energy, Belfast's newest indie-poppers debut single 'At A Loss' sounds like the charismatic love child of Courtney Barnett and Weezer, culminating in a track bursting with energetic-tragedy.

At it's heart, 'At A Loss' is a song about getting the beers in, followed by the existential dread of the next day come-down. It's partly an assessment of mans escapism down the bottle, it's partly a celebration of that same feeling. That seems to be M Y L K's thing, they'll make you think, but not enough to stop you dancing.

A highbred band taking their roots from established Belfast artists like Beauty Sleep, Bee Mick See and Empty Lungs, M Y L K are one of the most unlikely collaborations to hit Belfast since frontman Brendan Seamus' indie-rap side project 'Bloody Gold'; but  'At A Loss' is proof that this formula works wonders, with a sound dripping in harmony and enthusiasm.

Having been lucky enough to have caught M Y L K at their debut show in the Mandela Hall, there is thankfully no shortage of material either; the band recorded four songs in seven hours in Belfast recently. If they continue to be of this standard, there's every chance MY L K will push their own name alongside that of their parent bands very soon.

Taylor Johnson

ep review ~ 'the eyes, the heart, the sin' ~ born only yesterday

by 06:58

Born Only Yesterday 
For fans of⁞► The Cure, U2, And So I Watch You From Afar

On first listen 'The Eyes, The Heart, The Sin' sounds like a massive leap forward for Born Only Yesterday; a band casting off the indie-rock shackles of their much loved original moniker 'The Bayonettes'. On second listen, this record only gets better. Floating melodies, 'Unforgettable Fire' era U2 guitars and a frontman in fine form, this may be the ever-moving Danny McClelland and co's best release to date.

'Wunderkid Prevails!' dances solemly like The Cure, entwined with US melodic heroes The National. The 'I've seen better days' refrain provides a rare sing-along moment on an EP created predominantly for impassioned swaying, and arm raising of the most triumphant kind. 'Golden Keys and How We Found Them' continues this cinematic feel, again sounding big, ambitious. 'Atoms' offers a brief nod to the band's past, with a slower tempo and vicious finish.

The key difference between the two bands may simply be in the delivery. In B.O.Y, the heartache is more refined. McClelland's stories are viewed through more experienced eyes, though no less painful, there is perhaps more understanding here. Musically, we hear everything turned right up. The drums are huge, the guitars float and sting in equal measure. The vocal delivery never falters. 'Better Left Unsaid' see's B.O.Y's post rock credentials come to the surface, building to a cacophony of sadness most reminiscent of their North Coast origins.

In contrast to the rest of the EP, 'Hawaiian Tribal' is the sound of a band in love with what they're doing. Jovial and fierce, it sounds like four best friends, in a room, not even aware they are being recorded. Effortless and free, 'The Eyes,The Heart, The Sin' is a heartbreaking joy from start to finish.

Taylor Johnson

'The Eyes, The Heart, The Sin' is released 21st September.

track review ~ 'wreck less nature / / between the lines' ~ life goals

by 08:23

Photo by Ciara McMullan
Life Goals
For fans of⁞► The Menzingers, Vicky Speedboat, Modern Baseball

The debut release from Life Goals echoes a scene cultivated and perfected across the atlantic; alternative emo-punk with heart. 'Wreck Less Nature' opens strong, the biting guitar line complimented by a sincere vocal performance from frontman Decky McBride. It's a track tinged with self deprecation, with clever and honest lyrics that their US contemporaries would be proud of, and the emotive refrain, "I don't want to die / But I don't want to live like this anymore," is brought to life with storming gang vocals.

'Wreck Less Nature' is followed by its slightly sunnier sibling, 'Between The Lines'. Lyrically it serves as an anthem for the jaded and demotivated, but the track is anything but stagnant. The driving bassline stands out alongside gritty guitar, and the "where do we go from here?" hook is simply made to be repeated by a rowdy crowd.

Consisting of former and current members of Two Glass Eyes, Empty Lungs and Gascan Ruckus, the Belfast trio have managed to blend the influences of all three bands to create something altogether unique and exciting. For those who can't wait until their next release, catch them in action on 30th September at the Hangar, Dublin with The Winter Passing, Nibiru and Me And My Dog.

Lauren Johnson

track review ~ 'no easy way out'~ skymas

by 13:06

For fans of⁞► The Prodigy, Not Squares

'No Easy Way Out' (the latest effort from electronic Belfast two piece Skymas), carries all the brooding menace of Dublin's high flying noise-makers Girl Band, combined with The Prodigy's fierce dance rhythms.

A bold track from the off, 'No Easy Way Out's hynotic guitar riff and unmistakable fuzz ensures that it's catchy hooks remain 'European Underground' and not 'Kelly's on a Wednesday night', as is always the danger with dance music in the twenty first century. There's also room for a time honoured call to arms with it's 'Don't give in!' refrain.

Comprised of Martin Corrigan and Nick Todd, the band are due to follow this up with another single in December.

Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'song 3' ~ junk drawer

by 13:40
Junk Drawer
For fans of⁞► Dinosaur Jr, Yuck

Junk Drawer are a cool band. They may not agree with it, they'd probably hate being called it, but cool they are and this is perhaps the most apt description of  "Song 3", their most recent release since 'Their Self-Loathing Debut (Mostly)'.

Sounding like the battered cassette your older brother played to death trying to impress girls in the 90's, Junk Drawer somehow capture the hell for leather instrumentation of a band nearing ever closer to the edge; sewn together with the clever lyricism of Courtney Barnett.

"Play to your strengths, predestination has it’s perks,
Parallels everywhere you look,
Commitment’s nothing but a breeding ground for further discontent
Don’t place too much stock in not-for-profits"

Whilst "Song 3" makes no apologies for its art-house credentials, (this is music for "the cult fat guy" after all) it's done so in a way accessible to anybody stuck in a shitty nine to five, with a mind prone to overthinking (that's a lot of people). A hard balance to get right, but one that Junk Drawer's lackadaisical detachment has nailed thus far.

Frontman Stevie Lennox sounds great here too, his delivery never lost amidst the bands raucous noise around him. Having seen this band live a couple of times now, and knowing each member takes turns on every instrument, I still haven't worked out which formula works best. I can also confirm this is not a bad problem to have in their case. More please.

Taylor Johnson

interview: r51 ~ jonny woods

by 12:43

Appearances at Reading and Leeds Festival, a critically acclaimed debut EP and an ever increasing list of admirers has done little to inflate the ego of R51’s principle songwriter and co front-person Jonny Woods. The last few years may have been a whirlwind for his band, but as Encore NI would soon find out this is no reason to slow down and admire their achievements to date. Instead they find themselves on the brink of ‘No Chill’, a six track explosion of noise pirouetting dangerously close to ‘mini-album’ territory and due for release September 12th; we caught up with the guitarist on a rare day off…

Hi Jonny, firstly thanks for chatting to us! How you guys been?

Pretty good, pretty nervous, pretty excited, pretty relieved. All the emotional stages of releasing a new record...

It’s been a crazy year for the band so far, how did you find the writing process for ‘No Chill’ with so much happening?

Well, Most of these songs have been kicking about since just after/during “Pillow
Talk.” I think we released Pillow Talk in March 2015, and we started writing NO
CHILL around September/October 2015. We have a pretty regular routine of always
being together so yeah, it was written in between the hard gigging we did from
Pillow Talk onwards. How did we find the writing process? Really uplifting, then
really tough, depending on what point of 2016 we talk about. I suffered from pretty
heavy duty writers block in January 2016 that lasted a solid 6 months. Most songs
were actually recorded, scrapped, redone live, and lyrics were constantly being
trashed as we went along. 

It wasn’t really until Feb or March we decided “fuck this” and just felt like something
needed to be released. So when we put out the track Elephant earlier this year, the
reaction we had to it was a pretty uplifting experience. My “block” lifted, (with the
help of some important records that came into my life) I reduced my sad-boy level
(marginally), rewrote stuff, and came to terms with the rest of the songs again after.
Elephant was the last song written and the first one released. It’s most epitomising
where we are as a band right now.

You’ve also recently been announced on the bill for ATL’s 30th Birthday celebrations in The Ulster Hall – how do you feel about playing such an iconic venue?

Its a huge huge huge thing for us, it feels like probably the most important thing we
will have done to date. We have all seen so many of our heroes play that stage, and
to share it with modern-day heroes of ours is a serious trip. We are freaking out a
fair bit, and Mel is mainly worried in case she accidentally drops a swear word live
on air!

You’ve gigged an awful lot this Summer, it’s been almost a tour! Have you had a favourite gig or moment over the last few months?

By far a highlight for us was Stendhal Festival. We had a terrible time getting there
with our van breaking down, as well as a whole problem with the stage we were to
play originally and being moved last minute. We’ve been told there were even
Chinese whispers of when/where R51 would actually play among some of the
festival goers. When we actually let rip, we couldn’t believe the crowd that turned
out. Being not able to see the back of the sea of people was a serious thing for us,
but most importantly when we were done some friends of our heard people say to
each other “they were amazing!” and that was the most overwhelming feeling
because its a big deal to say those words in private between friends.

We’ve been lucky enough to get a sneak preview of the EP and it feels like it’s going to be a very special release indeed. Do you find you’re writing about the same subjects on this record your last one? Is there much correlation between ‘No Chill’ and ‘Pillow Talk’?

“Pillow Talk” was always a transitional record. It always had these really brave big
motifs and goals, but some songs were written a million years ago and with
different band members. We like to think NO CHILL is more connected and
grounded and although its a little prettier in some places and a little more lo-fi in
others, no matter what they are really still just songs about love and apathy, with a
pinch of humour and lots of self-deprecation.

I have the (probably old school) belief that no matter how short a release, be it an EP or an album, that it should be a rollercoaster and no two sounds should be identical. NO CHILL and Pillow Talk have that in common for sure!

You’re of course not just a musician and have produced a lot of music over the years, including the band! How important is it for R51 to keep that recording process a tight-knit experience between the five of you?

I’ve said publicly once before that I don’t want to produce the next record, but we
haven’t right now found the producer that we think could knock us up into the next
level and really believe in it, and any names in the hat are either too far away or our
bank account hasn’t hit that level yet. I think I am too close to the songs, and I want
to have someone I can have an argument with and who can tell me when to stop.
Because I am so close to the songs all the way through, when I suffer, the record
suffers. The band are amazing though, they push through my shite.

Do you have a favourite track off the new record?

Personally my favourite is “Surrender”. I’m really proud of Elephant and “A Perfect
Life” is a great example of us playing live, but Surrender really makes me smile. Mel
is really on form with it and the lyrics mean a lot to me.

Finally Jonny, ‘Pillow Talk’ was a massive release for your band last year, breaking a lot of ground both at home and across the water. What are your hopes for this one?

We want to keep evolving and hope that lots of people get something cool out of it.
Making records is tough, and we can only hope that not only some new people sort
of get the joke while we go on this journey together, but that it helps us grow and
keep pushing ourselves into new water. We absolutely love playing in a band
together and hopefully this and all our future records show that. 

Thanks Jonny!

'No Chill' is released on 12th September.

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