ep review ~ 'pillow talk' ~ r51

by 04:39

Name: R51
Genre: N/A
For Fans Of: Radiohead, Meanwhile...Back In Communist Russia, Smashing Pumpkins
Location: Belfast

"You are sleeping. You are sleeping. You do not want to wake up. 
You are sleeping"

What is The Beast Of The R51 Broadcast?

To some questions, there are no definitive answers. Just an abundance of other questions, floating endlessly, a bit like us. A bit like 'Pillow Talk'. This debut extended release comes from a band consistently showing up their own incredibly high standards. For those convinced the hazy love-lust tranquility of singles such as 'Slowhound' was a one off, a stroke of luck or a freak accident perhaps, this may come as a shock to the system. For those already setting their sights upon the sun for this young band, you'll find nothing but total satisfaction. It really is that good.

Whilst this reviewers heart will always belong somewhere between 1989 and 1994, when music's concerned my spectrum reaches far over the Brit-pop soundscape and into the distance. My first alternative love came in the shape of 'Meanwhile...Back In Communist Russia', a short lived, post-rock student band from Oxford in the late 90's//early 2000's. Based upon front-woman Emily Gray's entrancing spoken word, the band put music to poetry and so encapsulated a 12 year old from Northern Ireland that he decided to dedicate his life to music. Okay, perhaps there's a hint of artistic licence on display here, but the point remains. R51 are the first band (bar perhaps, the genius of Hot Cops) to entice me in such a way since. 'Pillow Talk' is a dream within a nightmare, a shimmer in the dark.

A singular listen through this Ep, will never be enough. Be it 'Absolutely Nothing's dance-invoking melody, 'Pillow Talk's cataclysmic emotional blow-out or the orchestral brilliance of 'Seaweed', each and every track holds a clue. Each lyric a hint, a glimpse behind the iron curtain of this fantasy band. You feel throughout this Ep (which you never truly want to end) R51 are willing their listener to open their minds. You'll find no comfort in lead guitarist Jonny Wood's pen. Nor will you find any meaning. This is a band uncomfortable with the concept of forever, unnerved by the prospect of tomorrow. "You and I have got tonight..."

Lyrically R51 prove they are within the top three bands in the country on this record. Melyssa Shannon has adapted that enchanting voice of hers and elevated it further. Yes, there's hint's of Kate Bush (probably my favorite female songstress of all time) and she must never loose that; but 'Pillow Talk' see's her come into her own once again. Powerful, striking and equally brilliant in a daydream ('Seaweed', 'Pillow Talk') or a dark space ('I Hate That Too'), this is a voice of the people. This is someone singing about 'Life when it's not flowing'. Credit must too go to Jonny Woods, as not only does his guitar playing remain upon a wave, but the production of this self released Ep is astounding.

So bringing things back to our initial question, what is The Beast Of The R51 Broadcast?

A moment in time? A feeling? A lover? Society? Us?

We may never know for sure, and nor is that the point. 

I'm not sure I want to. 

Taylor Johnson

We don't need no, 

No Modern age. 

She don't need it, Shes so strange. 

We're all bleeding, And that's ok. 

Just don't believe it's all a game. And you're ok, And I'm ok...

ep review ~ 'wonderkid' ~ don't shoot

by 06:01

Name: Don't Shoot
Genre: Indie-Rock
For Fans Of: Glasvegas,The Front Bottoms, Arcade Fire
Location: Omagh//Glasgow

There's a beautiful nostalgia attached to 'Don't Shoot'. a band based somewhere between Omagh and Glasgow. Winner's of the latter's prestigious 'Sound Wave' music competition this year, they're a young band on an understandable high, and whilst one eye must surly be set on their future, debut Ep 'Wonderkid' cast's another back to simpler times of indie-rock gone by...

Opener 'Panic' feel's more like a gentle jog, than a sprint start, but within the confines of 'Wonderkid's gentle synths and sing along tendencies, seem's appropriate. Not shying away from the 'love//loss' prose at the heart of most great indie records ("She broke my head, then I lost my mind"), Don't Shoot display their pedantry for a great build up, with definite elements of A Plastic Rose ('Garavogue', 'Like A Phoenix', 'Two Steps')   percolating through. It's not an adrenaline fueled, barrier thrashing introduction, though you quickly realise that's not on the cards here. Extra kudos must go to this tracks appropriately blunt ending ~ fade outs of feedback and shimmering drums may have just pushed things into cliché territory.

Moving on, and 'Don't Shoot' suddenly find their rhythm with the pulsatingly brilliant title track, 'Wonderkid'. Taking the melodic indie rock of bands like Dexters, Yuck and even this year's buzz band Catfish and the Bottlemen, 'Wonderkid' see's the addition of some fine piano work and drag's it straight into the 21st Century; not before making a detour to 1982 first though!

Whilst music's endless possibilities are frequently discussed by Encore NI and should come as no surprise, it's always interesting when something as subtle as a slight deviation from a melody can have a lasting impact on an entire record; and so it proves here, as the line "she thinks I'm some sort...of Wonderkid" rings out louder than any other on the whole Ep. It's a track of uplifting gravitas and the first real clue as to this band's potential.

Though follow-up 'Hollywood' lacks it's predecessor's catchy verse's, it makes up for it with a sonic stability that rests upon those reappearing synths. It's a balancing act difficult to get right, though Don't Shoot really manage it here. Imagine Scottish counterparts The Twilight Sad slightly less, well, sad. There's some nice things going on here for sure. The riff upon which the song is built sounds good, if a tad dragged out. The harmonies are positively Arcade Fire and ring out wonderfully, elevating parts of this tune to the near epic standards it aims for. On this occasion though, they fall just short.

Any Ep closer will inevitably fall under more scrutiny. It's a big ask, to close the door on the way out and take the listener home. Here we find Don't Shoot opting for the Bright Eyes approach, all low-fi fuzz and acoustic delicacy. Thankfully, it works and 'Rules' gentle harmonies and hollow production fits the vibe well. Although the band can't be blamed for wanting to bring in the drums and electric guitars to end things, you feel they may have missed a trick here. There's no doubting 'Rules' is a beautifully written song, though this may been one to keep purely acoustic, as the songs beginning is more enjoyable than it's end.

If 'Don't Shoot' can narrow down their influences, even a tad, we could have a really special band on our hands. 'Wonderkid' justifies more than one listen.

Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'heartbeats' ~ dani

by 05:05
Dani's new EP 'A Whisker Away' coming soon...
Name: DANI
Genre: Folk
For Fans Of: Laura Marling, The Staves
Location: Armagh//Stirling

A swirling mass of harmonic guitar, this latest release from Armagh songstress Dani has quality glowing from every verse. Sounding every bit like it's November release date, the underlying delicacy of 'Heartbeats' is uncharted territory for the singer-songwriter, her usual guise of fair maiden's in castle's pushed into the distance here.

Throughout 'Heartbeats',  Dani remains composed, never allowing something as ridiculous as emotion to ruin a good vocal take. That's not to say this is a track in need of an emotional backbone. Far from it in fact, as each verse drifts hazily in and out of focus. There's even room for a rising chorus ~ complete with some well layered backing vocals, violins and that ever present warmth she radiates effortlessly.

Don't allow the this tracks subtly to distract you from it's depth. Dani doesn't deal in 'Reality Show' tears and she's all the better for it.

Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'dr. johnson' ~ riker's beard

by 06:27

Name: Riker's Beard
Genre: Melodic Pop//Rock
For Fans Of: The Strypes, The Libertines, The Fratellis
Location: Belfast

Not heard of Riker's Beard? Don't even know who or what Riker is*, or why there's a beard involved? Fear not, as the latest teenage guitar slinging-sensations have not quite passed you by, at least not yet. Though be warned, if  this demo is anything to go by they certainly will be.

'Riker's Beard' are a melodic young four piece, aged between 13 and 16, making catchy guitar-driven rock and roll. Remind you of anyone? Yes, The Strypes may well share many of Riker's early characteristics, but where the Cavan collective fall down, "Dr Johnson", (the bands debut single) surly stands tall.

Bouncing along a Fratelli's styled riff (think the frantic-swing of 'Creepin Up The Backstairs'), here Riker's Beard display a remarkable confidence from the outset. Fueled by relentless, youthful glee, honesty comes spilling from every pour here; as the band's love for simply getting into the recording studio is all too obvious. More impressive still, this is a track which (instrumentally at least), was recorded completely live. To be that tight, at what is essentially the embryonic stage of their existence, is quite a feat.

A nonchalant stop-start cavalry into every chorus keeps things interesting, while the harmonica which comes steaming in is trademark Doherty. Whilst Riker's Beard clearly take inspiration from the past, don't go thinking they've no original ideas. This is a band that's only going to get better.

Taylor Johnson

*'William Riker' was//may well still be, a character from space show 'Star Trek'. 
He has a beard. That's all we got. 

spotlight...'chat bad records' ~ more than a record label // daydream nation

by 07:43

There's something happening on the tranquil shores of Brighton, England. Take some low-fi psychedelia ~ a-la Mac DeMarco ~ add a little teenage rebellion (not necessarily against the system, be chill man) and top it off with some DIY attitude. Now what do you have? The answer, 'Chat Bad Records' a brand new record label by the people, for the people ~ literally.

Started by a group of local musicians, Chat Bad is a two finger salute to the plastic people of the record industry, opting to record and promote artists, organise gigs, 'hype things up' and even film music videos. It's a rare example of the local scene giving something back to itself and already bands have started to benefit.

Pioneered by the likes of garage-surf band 'Munez', who we've already featured, Brighton's feelings of free love is currently leading the likes of London for promising talent.

Also on the books at Chat Bad are new-wave groove (dream?) makers 'Electric-Koolade'. 'Born out of a desperation for something real', the band's chilled nature and technicolor aesthetics perfectly capture the movement in the town. Already making some very cool noise, Electric-Koolade could lead the line for British bands going into the future ~ and it's the support from labels like Chat Bad which make that possible.

Electric-Koolade ~ living in a day dream

In their own words, Chat Bad Records are "just a bunch of chill dudes, trying to help out the little guy." 

It's new, it's exciting and it's happening right now. Quick, somebody tell the NME!

Taylor Johnson

Check out Chat Bad Records here⁞► Facebook & Electric-Koolade below...

track of the week ~ 'seance of light' ~ jape

by 06:29

Name: Jape
Genre: Dance~Symmetry//Gothic Pop 
For Fans Of: New Order, Los Campesinos!
Location: Malmö, Sweden

Irish native Richie Egan is living proof that the old mantra about talent and humility is as valid as ever. A songwriter of serious critical (and to an extent commercial) appraisal, Jape's veteran frontman is seldom far from the  term legend, not that you'd know it. 

Relocating to the peace and tranquility of Sweden back in 2012, one of Dublin's finest purveyors of electronica has found their feet and the results are quite striking. Whilst new album 'This Chemical Sea' (released back in January) lacks some of it's predecessors acoustic tinged groove, it replaces this with an abundance of 80's fused synth's and dark rhythms. Ironically, opening track 'Seance Of Light' see's more glimpses of Jape's successful past than the rest of the record, though it's only a passing glance. 'This Chemical Sea' is the classy art-house soundtrack you feel they have always been capable of writing and fully at home in the 21st century.

Chilled to perfection, 'Seance...' continues to pave the way for Northern Ireland's homegrown acts. No doubt the likes of Go Wolf, Hurdles and even the enigmatic Affleck will be taking note. As we move further into the return of clever, electronic-pop, Jape's eccentricities may be embraced by a whole new audience.

We certainly hope so.

Taylor Johnson

album review ~ 'the belfast yank' ~ bee mick see

by 06:33

To say Northern Ireland isn't really known for it's rap is like saying Israel and Palestine aren't really known for their friendly banter. It doesn't take a great deal to realise it's not in our history and we've never really had anyone particularly good at it. Adopted Belfastian Brendan Seamus has been on a one man mission to change that perception for many years now; whether it's on the frontline of sweaty venues with 'Bomb City 7', or as the hugely popular Bee Mick See, Seamus and his unique style has converted many a hip-hop charlatan onto full blown, expressive rap. The release of new album 'The Belfast Yank' has been a long time coming, but could he capitalise on the hype he's worked so hard to create? Encore couldn't wait to find out...

Proceed with caution. Bee Mick See's new record pulls no punches, as opening gambit 'Belfast Slang' proves beyond doubt. You know what's the most surprising though? Amongst the barrage of swearing and fast paced verses, there's an underlying charm you can't help but smile about. Whether it's in the uplifting 80's styled guitar which percolates through each verse, or the joyous sing along sensibilities in the chorus, 'Belfast Slang' will win you over, whether you're willing it to or not. You still wouldn't let your Grandparents hear it though. 

From here on in, the scene has been set and Bee Mick See begins to relax into the album. 'Awkward' see's the rapper opening up about a difficult start to life in Northern Ireland (where he moved from Portland, Oregon as a child ~ further explored in the awesome 'We Took A Dive', but we'll get to that later...), which includes the gem 'I ignored Shakespeare and learned how to rap'. 

Then comes 'Stress', a call to arms to the Western world to put down the X-Box controller and actually go outside. Again, whilst Seamus' lyrics at times verge on the extreme end of the honesty spectrum, there's an underlying feeling of good will attached here. So to in 'Music', but here there's a shimmer of something altogether more fluent. Somewhere between the gospel like instrumentation and the tracks quick witted flow gives this song a Mike Skinner-esque appeal. Seamus also delivers another piece of lyrical genius, (& possibly the best lyric on the entire album) as he admits 'I can't find God, so albums are bibles'. Amen brother!

'Alphabetic Blocks' then takes things into new territory, as the guitars, synths and saxophones (trumpets?) of tracks gone by are replaced by straight up dance. This is a track you can really move to and even those not strictly into the grime-laden end of hp-hop will be able to appreciate the genius epilogue which opens proceedings. "I listen to Bee Mick See more than I listen to my Ma'". Damn right you do, son. By this stage we're starting to see into the mind of the artist, and in 'Fear Is A Gift' we get a bigger insight than we perhaps expected. Wrapped within the double entendre's, we hear how Mick See really does 'Fear Death'. Albeit like a sexually transmitted disease. So yes, it's not quite Eminem singing about watching his friends die and how that spurred him onto greatness ~ but scratch beneath the surface and the sentiments remain the same.

Perhaps the only 'Rap ballad' on the record comes courtesy of 'Love', a song showcasing Seamus' handling of a shattering break-up. With a genius cameo courtesy of Yellowbridge's Ciara Donnelly (who's sounding wonderful throughout) it was always a likely candidate for single status and so it proved. Picking the pace straight back up again,  'We Took A Dive's singalong sensibilities are pure feelgood pop (ironic when you consider the lyrics). Another great collaboration, Paul Denver's handling of one of Bee Mick See's best chorus' is commendable. There's a certain 'Fresh Prince Of Bel Air' element at play here, and whilst 'We Took A Dive' isn't quite as catchy as Will Smith's masterpiece (what is?), you can still imagine this song dropping seamlessly into a set at the Limelight on a Saturday night.

Penultimate track 'Death' once again see's Bee Mick See deal with personal, often dark issues, through an upbeat backing track. As the synths return, so to does the violins, in a flurry of verses about the absurdness of life and regret. It's a real grower, as Roysta's harsh vocal style acclimatizes with each listen. An album as triumphant as this deserved a big finisher, and in 'Natural Scents' producer Rocky O'Reilly's trademark sheen is given the full spotlight. A truly engaging listen, 'Natural Scent' seems to capture everything the rapper stands for in one four minute burst; namely, the pitfalls of everyday capitalism, society's emphasis on all things fake and humanities downright greed in the modern age. It's slick, smart and has a powerful message.

Throughout 'The Belfast Yank' the pendulum seems to swing between cocksure-confidence and a surprising fragility. When Bee Mick See is at his best, it's the latter which continues to resonate long after you've finished listening. Even if some questions are left unanswered... Is Bee Mick See an alter ego?

Does it matter? 

Taylor Johnson
Catch Bee Mick See live at the official album launch in 'The Bar With No Name'

countdown ~ 5 'must hear tracks' this week

by 07:11

In a twist to our usual round-up of new releases and live-reviews, this week we've showcased five unmissable tracks from the last few months you can't miss out on. From atmospheric rock, to twinkling psychedelia, get your ears around this...

#1. 'Only Love' ~ Aspen Pales

Almost gospel in it's approach, this festive release from Aspen Pales has 'the true meaning of Christmas' written all over it. Though not strictly confined to winter, 'Only Love' proves just as engaging a listen three months on, it's gentle piano and acoustic composition resting somewhere between New York's sadly missed 'And The Giraffe' and ambient-electronic artist 'Tycho'.

#2. 'Broken Mirrors' ~ His New Atlas

Huge in arrangement, even bigger on passion. His New Atlas hits the ground running with this new single, as engaging a listen as anything the young songwriter has released to date. Not straying from the formula which has won him recognition thus far, 'Broken Mirrors' see's the Armagh teenager in Keaten Henson territory, a very promising position indeed. ("You painted blood over my eyes...why can't I just breathe?")

#3. 'Pedestrian At Best' ~ Courtney Barnett

Yes, we know, Courtney Barnett is in no way Northern Irish, so perhaps we're straying from our ethos somewhat with this next choice ~ but we simply couldn't ignore this beautiful release from everybody's favorite alt-rock poet. This single, championed by Zane Lowe amongst others, see's Barnett at her most scathing, pouring scorn on the plastic people of the world. 'I think you're a joke, but I don't find you very funny'. Genius.

#4. 'Yeah' ~ Loris

Admittedly, we feel a little late to the party with this one; but that doesn't mean this latest effort from Belfast's Loris isn't as brilliant as is claimed. Already championed by the likes of Radio 1, the bands soft electronica is at it's absolute best here, not so much crossing the indie-pop divide, as striding straight through it. Shades of Kate Bush, chart toppers Bastille and CHVRCHES combine here, in some of the most professional songwriting you'll hear this year.

#5. 'Fox Polar ~ Live From The Atlantic' ~ Little Arcadia 

A very young group, The North Coast's Little Arcadia will be the first to tell you that they are far from the finished product. Still, between this and newly recorded opening number 'FUQ',  there's enough to suggest here that this band may have something a little different to offer than their hard rocking contemporaries. There's a depth here that resonates like the golden age of music in this country, when every bar in Belfast bore the names of APR, ASIWYFA and Fighting With Wire, amongst others. 'Fox Polar', in all it's atmospheric wonder, stands above the rest of the bands setlist so far ~ though we feel it won't be long before the rest of their set catches up.
Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'nothing i do will ever be good enough' ~ tandem felix

by 08:52

Name: Tandem Felix
Genre: Alt-Rock
For Fans Of: Kurt Vile, The National, The Shins
Location: Dublin

Disregard everything you've learned about Dublin's Tandem Felix so far. Chances are, that's not much, but even those aware of the Irish raconteurs will be excited by the melodic flow of their newest Ep 'Coma'. The hazy shoe-gaze flooding out of their debut Ep back in 2009 has gladly remained, but on 'Nothing I Do...' Felix have progressed from the 'so laid back they're practically horizontal' approach, to something altogether more interesting.

Shades of 'The War On Drugs' and old guard 'The Thrills' combine here, on a track made for campfires at sun-down and walks on the pier. There's a psych vibe to, as gentle synths glide beneath frontman David A Tapley's dreamy vocals.

On the band's official Facebook page, they claim they're 'The greatest guitar band since Coldplay' and yes, while we realise this is probably ironic, there's no denying Tandem Felix's chilled demeanor would fit seamlessly into the early 2000's ~ which is no bad thing, by the way.

'Nothing I Do Will Ever Be Good Enough' quite literally encapsulates that triumphant feeling of accepting the inevitable ~ in this case, you guessed it, meeting that girl//boy//mean old boss dude's impossible expectations. It's that moment of freedom; it's not you, it's them and there's something about this tracks gentleness making it real.

With Tandem Felix's rise running parallel to Armagh's Silences, the future of atmospheric rock feels safe. Long may it continue.

Taylor Johnson 

gig review ~ noel gallagher's high flying birds ~ odyssey arena, belfast

by 05:01

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds
Belfast, Odyssey Arena.

The choir have returned, alongside the McCartney piano & those singalong chorus'. Yes, Noel Gallagher is back on tour and as is tradition, he begins his jaunt around the UK and Ireland with Belfast.

Gallagher has a warm relationship with the city, dating back to Definitely Maybe's ascension to number one during an Oasis gig back in 1994. All it takes is a simple "What about you Belfast?" to send the crowd into raptures and even a rocky attempt at the Northern Irish accent fails to disrupt this parties flow. Tricky tour opener navigated, Gallagher flies into a barrage of debut album highlights, "Stranded On The Wrong Beach" and  "Everybody's on the Run" respectively. It hits the mark. Belfast are in this for the long haul & when b-side gem "Fade Away" is dropped without warming, it seems a fair exchange for this crowds adoration.

Younger brother Liam's Johnny Rotten snarl may now be replaced by gentle acoustics, but that Gallagher edge remains ever present; indeed, three tracks in and he's already called a member of the crowd "a fucking square". Not yet content, it appears time for the first trump card of the night. A Beatles-esque guitar melody is met with "this ones for the mum and dad's...", but it's not. It's for every single person in the venue, and as the familiar chants of 'Champagne Supernova' begin there's quite literally not a single person left seated. Bucket hats now thrusted skyward, The Odyssey Arena will not be the only venue of this tour out-singing the band. The magic remains, even through this watered-down arrangement.

With an array of 'arms around total strangers' styled anthems at his disposal, Noel could be forgiven for playing it safe, but tonight Belfast see's the cobwebs blown off 'Shout It Out Loud', a Heathen Chemistry B-Side of Lennon proportions. We're then given an insight into Chasing Yesterday's darker regions, as  'The Mexican' and it's Rolling Stone's bass line is given the chance to stretch it's legs ('Is there any Mexican's here tonight?').

Whilst the highlight of the night undoubtedly belongs to sensational closer 'The Masterplan',  new album track 'You Know We Can't Go Back' stands head and shoulders above it's High Flying Birds counterparts. Yes it's vintage Noel, but elements of both Morrissey and Doherty have found their way onto a song sounding positively massive. Quite possibly his best in years.

Tonight was all about Noel Gallagher, the solo performer. As much as he may enjoy returning to those halcyon days of lasagna ('Digsy's Dinner') and girls called Sally (Cinnamon or otherwise), don't expect these High Flying Birds to be coming down anytime soon.

Taylor Johnson

Chasing Yesterday? Not in this performance...

encore introducing ~ shannon wardrop

by 09:47

Name: Shannon Wardrop
Genre: Indie
For Fans Of: Nico, Courtney Barnett, Warpaint
Location: London//Maidenhead

It's rather difficult to pin down exactly what Shannon Wardrop is. Fusing the pinnacle of 60's blusey-pop, with  (at times) Tame Impala inspired psychedelia and everything in between, she's certainly not an artist scared of pushing the boundaries. Nor should she be ~ uncovered by Encore NI after a haunting cover of The Kinks classic 'Waterloo Sunset', Wardrop's falsetto is a hark back to the Great British songstress' of another age, the ease of which she shifts through the gears of her own voice truly hypnotic.

Whilst there is an undoubted nostalgic quality to Wardrop's voice, her songs sound neither dated nor worn. Instead tracks like 'Cloud Nine' carry a rockier element, part Courtney Barnett, part Warpaint. What we're left with is a young artist with a near complete sound. 'Meet Me By The Waterfront' is a hazy build of atmospheric guitar, channeling the pop sensibilities of The Ronettes through the tear stained eyes of Lana Del Ray. It's maudlin charm never forced upon the audience, as it's simply allowed to be. 'Medicine' see's her guitar-driven influences return to the surface, as Wardrop tells of 'Conversations with herself' and being 'stuck in reverse'. 

From listening to Shannon Wardrop, it's quite clear she was born in the wrong century. In a modern musical landscape dominated by money and auto-tuned voices, we should feel very lucky she has been.

Taylor Johnson

Check out Shannon Wardrop's cover of 'Waterloo Sunset' for BBC Introducing & her original song 'I Got You' below⁞►

single review ~ 'moon turns blue' ~ runabay

by 05:24

Name: Runabay
Genre: Folk
For Fans Of: Travis, Kodaline, Fleet Foxes
Location: Belfast

Few bands live up to the vibes of their own sound quite like Runabay. Making a truly harmonious blend of acoustic folk, this band sound like they live in some sort of wooded glen and to be honest, we wouldn't seriously doubt that being the case...

Runabay's  own brand of pop-tinged folk has proved a winning formula thus far, and on 'Moon Turns Blue' they rightfully find no need to change that combination. Hand made for sepia toned trips down memory lane, this songs delightful bursts of cello and brush stroke-snare playing drifts hazily around frontman John McManus vocals; which it must be said, are sounding particularly soothing in this track. At times Runabay seem so mellow, so happy to simply be making music, that you can forget that they're actually quite brilliant. Perhaps it's this appreciative attitude which allows their compositions to flow so easily, as 'Moon Turns Blue' surly does.

With this latest effort, Runabay have strengthened their position as songwriters of timeless melodies. Upon the first listen, I see a country pub, united in song and several pints of Guinness over the drink driving limit. I could go on, about the Red Setter asleep by the fire and the first signs of snow fall on frost tinted windows ~ but I won't!

For a song about a blue moon, there's not a Manchester City scarf or adidas tracksuit in sight. There's no surprises on offer here by any means, but certainly no disappointment. More of the same please lads.

Taylor Johnson

Check out the new single below⁞►

gig preview ~ four reasons you can't miss modern life is rubbish | 'project zambia'

by 09:01

This month's Modern Life Is Rubbish see's three quality local acts coming together in aid of charity. With all proceeds going to a team travelling to Zambia, in Southern Africa, it will be a valuable chance to see music benefiting a worthy cause. Free on Saturday night?

Here's why we believe it's worth coming down....

#1. Three excellent acts.

The rise of singer-songwriter Andy Bell has even surprised himself. Raised on a diet of 60's pop classics and 90's indie, a young Andy taught himself guitar whilst spinning retro vinyl gifted to him by a friend. Eventually taking to the streets of Belfast to ply his trade, the musician's relentless dedication to performing is now wielding results, as his gigging schedule is now busier than ever. Tipped by many as an artist with a big future, this may also be your last chance to catch him as a solo artist, as rumors of a full band continue to gather pace.

Bell himself remains humble of his achievements, "I've had a great time with how everything has gone these last couple of months, its been amazing to finally meet the right people helping me get noticed and I feel as if I'm getting closer and closer to where I want to be...It's been an absolute pleasure."

The Quartel too are an act of serious ambition. For a young group, their CV makes for an impressive read; with gigs in The Ulster Hall (amongst others) and big support slots validating the hype. Now weeks away from the release of their highly anticipated 'Stuck In Gear' Ep, expect to see a band brimming with confidence and new material.

In what promises to be an electric climax, headlining the night will be Cusacks Well, one of the countries most established mod bands. The gig will be an emotional affair for the band, marking their return from a hiatus which see's them return with a brand new drummer. Formerly of the much loved indie-rock act Paper Man, Saturday will see David Hunter making his debut for the band and return to the stage ~ a prospect he's clearly relishing.

"I'm really honored to be kick starting my drumming again with such a great group of lads, and to get the opportunity to headline for such a great cause just makes this night even more special!"

With such an established reputation to uphold, Cusacks are likely to accommodate fans both old and new, crowd favorites like 'Mr Clean' surly in the running to make the setlist. 

Though this doesn't mean they'll shy away from the odd curveball..."In regards to new material we are recording our new Ep and there are gonna be two brand new tunes premiered on Saturday, so we can't wait to drop them"

There you are. Cusacks Well are back. Don't miss it.

#2. Indie Soundtrack

Not content with the quality local acts on offer? Fear not intrepid indie kid, as there's salvation for you yet. Modern life Is Rubbish prides itself on updated playlists each month of the bets in alternative//indie music. Some old, some new and some local. This is the only club night in Belfast you can walk in to and hear Kate Bush, The Smiths, Smashing Pumpkins & Hot Cops all in a row. 

Dance your troubles away with us!

Ju suis indie...Morrissey's dulcet tones are never far from a Modern Life playlist.
#3. Pearce ~ The best bar man in Belfast.

No disrespect to other bar men in Belfast, but Pearse is a joy. At any given Modern Life Is Rubbish show you can expect to see him rapping, break dancing, back flipping and occasionally, when the moment's right, pulling pints.

#4. It's for a great cause.

As we've said earlier, all proceeds are going to a group to help fund house building in Zambia. Something we fully support and want to help as much as possible!

So really, you've no excuse not to be there. See you Saturday night...

Taylor Johnson

Check out Cusacks Well's debut single below⁞►
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