daveit ferris ~ exclusive interview part 2

by 04:28

In part two of our exclusive chat with Daveit Ferris, we discuss new bands, dream local line-ups and the future...

So Daveit, we've been incredibly fortunate over the last few years to see the emergence of some awesome new bands (Hot Cops, Robocobra Quartet, etc..), do you have any favourites emerging at the minute?
Unfortunately, I've barely been able to catch any shows these last two years due to working on my own music. At the end of a day, with ears ringing, the last thing I need is more decibels dancing in my eardrums! It’s a shame, but i’m fully intending on catching up in 2016. From what I have seen I really like Rebecca Harkin, she has a fantastic soulful voice and great songwriting, Jessica Doherty with her beautifully innocent voice and great songs and Chanele McGuinness with her haunting voice...are you noticing a trend? Having listened to my man-voice for so long, I’m just hypnotized with delicate female voices at this very minute. I also love Ports, Best Boy Grip, Ruairi and the Owls, Lost Avenue, Riot Upstairs and Seneron to name but a few. I’m also a little bit broken-hearted about More than Conquerors having broken up as I thought they were destined to be huge!
This is an incredibly difficult question for you I'm sure, but do you have a favourite lyric you've wrote?
That would be impossible simply because it constantly changes. Off the top of my head there’s two I really like… ‘A Fistfight with a Typewriter’ says: ‘life gave me a lemon, once, so i turned it into punch and got drunk’. I know it’s not Shakespeare, but in the context of that song it really stands out. ‘Staring at Rainbows in Gasoline’ says: ‘...his heart of gold is nickel-plated emptiness’. Ask me again tomorrow and you’ll likely get a completely different line!
In early 2012 you created Chordblossom.com, one of this countries best music websites, though it's not something you like to brag about. Do you ever miss it?
I thought I might miss it a lot, but I definitely made the right decision in passing the mantle on to someone else when I did ( ...to Robert Brown, the current Chordblossom MD and all around lovely guy)
As an artist myself, running a music website aimed at promoting musicians gave me very itchy feet to get back into creating music, so I credit Chordblossom with reigniting that fire for me. It might be a local blog, but let me tell you … when i was running the site it was nearly a full-time, unpaid, job. I put a lot into that website but I also pulled a lot of experience out of it. It was fun whilst it lasted, but the artist in me was always fighting to return. I’m happy it’s still around and doing well. I have been toying with the idea of launching something similar next year, but rather than reviews and interviews, it’ll be more resource driven and aimed at the bands and industry themselves as opposed to the listeners. I guess time will tell on that one...
I can't imagine what a Daveit Ferris notebook looks like ~ you must at this stage have a bigger back catalog than U2! Do you have any plans to get gigging again in the future?
Have you ever strapped a pencil lead to the belly of a millipede and fed it LSD? Something like that, I guess. I use notepads almost as a conversation with myself. I don’t write down perfectly written little lists or anything. It’s weird but it works for me. Yes! I absolutely plan to get back on the circuit starting at the very ground floor. I have a tonne of music to choose from now, so it’s only logical to play it to as many people as humanely possible. I do actually miss playing live at this point and can have no excuses now that endorsers such as Marshall Amps and Eden Bass Amps are anxiously waiting for me to bring this music on the road. It’s an exciting new angle for me since I’ve never really been one for playing tonnes of shows, but i’m very determined to become a part of the music culture of NI once more - it has simply been way too long. Besides, how cool does 365-alive sound as a tour name?
What does a local band need to do to get signed in the 21st century? Is there a secret formula, or is luck as important as anything?
I’ve seen amazing bands from NI with lacklustre work ethics, and I’ve seen very-average bands from NI with incredible work ethics. History usually shows that it’s the perfect marriage of being a killer band alongside really slogging it out that usually reaps the rewards. The question is though; do bands even need to get signed these days? Listen, just like every other musician on earth, I’d love to have money backing me for recording and touring purposes, but the big majors are so afraid of failure now that they meddle every single step of the route to release. A quick google search will bring up hundreds of former signed bands who talk about how their album didn’t come out like they wanted it to sound etc - simply due to meddling from non-musician execs. 
On a personal and way smaller level, we had that kind-of meddling even in the Mascara days when we were in London and it felt very uncomfortable being told how to write music by a guy in a suit who can’t play an instrument. 
Sorry, I’m rambling now. Basically, I don’t think bands who be striving for that elusive signing-on day, because it gives them an excuse to fall back on and that’s never good. Bands should be doing as much as they can for themselves and just working on their craft - influential people want to sign bands that are doing as much for themselves as they can. I remember watching Green Days manager Pat talking about why they were signed in the early days and it was because they had the drive and slogged it out... going so far as to tour Europe whilst broke and unsigned. Bands and people who are in it to be rich and famous stand out like a hipster at a Right Said Fred concert.
If you were to release a 'Best of Daveit Ferris' album, what would be the closing tune?
It would have to be either ‘My Epitaph’ or ‘Just Like Everybody Else’. The first is a song I wrote specifically to be played at my eventual funeral - it’s a very lighthearted way of saying goodbye to people through music and I have no idea where that idea came from but I’m glad it popped up... that would be a good closer. The latter hasn’t been released just yet but really takes you on a sonic journey and ends really frantically and packed full of really emotive vocals and screams. It would be hard to have a song follow it because it’s super intense. Coming to a bargain bin near you!
You've built up an incredible amount of experience in the music industry ~ you know just how cut throat it can be ~ what can we do to keep the NI Music scene united? More gigs? Meet ups? More blogs?
Tough question. When I started Chordblossom way back in 2012, my grand vision was that it’d become a connecting point for the musicians and bands of NI. The site I alluded to working on next year would be a centralised hub to connect NI Creatives with each other. It would be completely neutral too in the sense that there would be no divisive content like reviews or interviews. It would be strictly content, resources and community. It might help out a little in connecting musicians, who knows? I need to get back out there and see the health of things before i can even attempt to pretend how to improve things.
What would be your all time dream local festival line-up?
Wow. It’s genuinely something I've never thought about before so I’m just going to go with my first gut instincts!

Fighting With Wire / Berkeley / Six Star Hotel / Furlo / Making Monsters / More than Conquerors / Ash / Mojo Fury / RunawayGO / Best Boy Grip / Jetplane Landing & me!
I’m opening the show so that i can then stand side-stage for the rest of the day singing along!
Finally Daveit, what's next for you? The end of your 365 project isn't a million miles away, yet somehow we can't see you taking a break anytime soon!
Oh, I’m definitely taking a month off when this is done to recharge my batteries. I have been working on two main projects for next year, one of which is pretty much online already and raring to go and the other needs a bit more development and work. I can’t give the game away yet, but i can say one is a ‘creative marketplace’ and the other is ‘mapping out the world’. Both are businesses as opposed to mere hobbies. I’m excited about both. Lots of work still to do and I'm likely to launch one first and get that rolling smooth before even considering launching the second. I’m also really hellbent on getting out my first novel in 2016, producing an album by another band, doing a tour of Ireland and at some point sitting down and listening to song 1 through 365 of my project before closing that era closed.

I think you might have earned the chance to do just that, Daveit!

Interview by Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'pilgrim' ~ son of the hound

by 14:49

Singer/songwriter Michael McCullagh is a rolling stone. Forever in motion, constantly evolving, his latest effort under the new name 'Son of the Hound' may be the release which see's his restless heart finally tamed, as 'Pilgrim's soft western-tinged folk seems to fit him perfectly.

Gently morphing evocative guitar sounds with classic melody, it's the sort of journeyman's tale McCullagh has crafted many times over the years in his different guises, but this one feels different. Indeed, with it's incredibly catchy whistling refrain and gently overlapping piano, it looks and feels like Son Of The Hound was meant to be. Is 'Pilgrim' an ode to the tireless work ethic of this nation's unsigned artists? If it's not, it could certainly be adopted as an anthem for the believers; "I'm a pilgrim, I walk this lonely road...and as long as my heart beats in my chest, I will go where it takes me, before I'm lay to rest."

Grown up folk-pop at it's absolute best, 'Pilgrim' could be straight out of Bruce Springsteen's classic "We Shall Overcome; The Seeger Sessions" record. A fine follow up to Southpaw Niños.

Taylor Johnson

news ~ volume control's clash of the new breeds 2015

by 03:30

The Volume Control team are back again with another line-up of fresh new talent from across Northern Ireland. Tonight marks the third incarnation of Clash Of The New Breeds, a competition which see's new breakthrough talent playing for the chance to win some incredible opportunities, all in the company of some of Belfast's most important music personalities.

On the judging panel we have Hidden Machine's dynamic managing director and founder, Nikki MacRae, BBC Radio Ulster and Mirador's  very own Peter Cinnamond & Mojo Fury's (amongst many others!) Mike Mormecha. There will also be an audience vote, meaning every single person is vital!

Events kick off at 7pm tonight, in Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre ~ don't miss it!

Full finalists shortlist below...

Taylor Johnson

The Bayonettes
The Flims
Common Ground
High Sundays
10 Glass
Conjecture 42

daveit ferris ~ a year in the life... ~ an encore ni exclusive interview part 1

by 05:17

In the early 2000's Daveit Ferris' life was very different. As frontman of the post hardcore band 'Mascara Story', his lyrics and broken poetry came to soundtrack the hardships of growing up for a generation of teenagers, both local and not so local. Songs like 'Cue the Violins', 'Safety Pin' and the awesome 'This Is Not A Bruise' caught the emo movement at it's peak, as the band came to represent everything modern pop music didn't. It was raw, exciting and when Mascara Story won Kerrang Magazine's unsigned band of the year, no one was really surprised. After touring with established acts such as 'Fighting With Wire' and playing a slot at 'Download Festival' they eventually broke up. Since then Daveit has been making and releasing an astonishing amount of music, culminating in his '365 Sparks' project, which saw him write a song a day, every day of 2014; he is now in the process of releasing every last one of those songs. Taylor Johnson caught up with him to discuss this project, time machines and everything in between...

Hi Daveit! Thanks for taking the time to speak to us. How you been?
Yo Taylor! I’m pretty sweet and pretty exhausted but i’m not complaining as i can almost see the finish line of 365 Sparks after a two-year+ marathon .. can i get a hallelujah?
Hallelujah indeed! These last two years have been incredibly significant for you, what inspired you to undertake your 365 project?
These last two years have been the most enjoyable but also the most stressful of my entire life by far - but doing this has been the best decision I’ve ever made. I toyed with the idea of 365 songs in a year since probably 2009 and even attempted it for a few weeks in 2010 - but ultimately life got in the way as it tends to do and i had to abandon the plan that year - but it has always stayed on ice. Ultimately it was a life event that made me decide i have to push everything aside and do this. In October 2013, over the course of one day, i went from being out for a nice walk to being in a hospital bed unable to speak or drink with something i’d later find out was supraglottitis. In simple terms: a ball was forming at the base of my throat at an alarming rate and had i have not rushed to hospital - i wouldn’t be talking to you right now. Dramatic sounding i know, but that’s because it was very dramatic. Being told by specialists you were very close to dying puts a lot of things in perspective, you know? I’m a pretty creative person, but in the past i tended to dabble with no clear focus - this event made me realise that all of those 50%/25% completed projects I've worked on for years could have just vanished with me. I decided on that hospital bed to fulfill that 365 goal with absolute clarity and focus - and that’s what I've been doing every single day since.
It's something that's not really been attempted by anyone before, certainly not at a local level. Did you have any nightmares along the way?
It’s been done by a few folks for sure, and you know what? Knowing this fact gave me confidence that I could do it too. That competitive side of me was screaming ‘if they can do it, so can you!’. I’m not meaning to sound arrogant, but in researching prior to my project starting, the one commonality those other projects have is that they have ‘songs’ under a minute long, instrumentals and sometimes even just talking over static or beats; I think this is the first time 365 ‘songs’ have been recorded in this way! I really wanted all my music to sound like it could naturally fit on an album and live comfortably in that environment … that’s my story and i’m sticking to it!

Being told by specialists you were very close to dying puts a lot of things in perspective...

Did you feel the discipline of writing so much helped to improve your songwriting?
Without a doubt. I’ve grown so much as a writer, musician, producer and even as a person throughout this process. I feel like I fast-tracked every facet of my being in doing so much creative work. Most musicians will record a few times a year in a studio and take that experience with them - but when it’s a constant in your life, those little tips and tricks and insight start to permanently stitch themselves to your brain for good. One element I enjoyed was the competition with myself...I’d try and make that days vocals better than the previous one or that days mix sound fuller than the previous one. It just gave me something to constantly shoot for.

You're a pretty emotional guy and in the past this has really helped people connect with your songs. Was it difficult finding inspiration, or is it always there?
I think emotion is a positive trait to have. I’ve definitely never been one to shy away from that admission.You know, a lot of people used to throw daggers at me when i was 20 and in Mascara Story about following that ‘emo’ trend - but what people didn’t realise was … that was just how I always was up to that point. My older friends can vouch for the songs I was writing at 15 years old before that craze even was a thing!

My life and the genre-of-the-year just happened to coincide. I mean, nearly 10 years later and i’m still writing within the same genre of rock music and singing about the same kind of things, because they’re honest and an expression of myself and my life - it was never a fad for me. In having 365 little musical beds to fill, i had a lot of lyrical subject matter to consider. When recording an album or EP there’s always an invisible thread or theme whether intended or not and that’s why you won’t see a holy worship album end with a song called ‘see u in the club YOLO’, you know? I remember writing down hundreds of song titles before I even started about things I wanted to sing about: animal liberation / my own funeral / my mother / cancer / alcohol abstinence / my estranged father / religion / depression etc. My goal was to be more honest than ever before. I didn’t want to dress my words up with over-clever buzz words to almost hide their meaning. I wanted them to read like stories and I never shied away from any subject at all. This was new ground for me, but i really enjoyed leaving the sugarcoat at home. If that honest emotion allows people to connect to the music … then i’m over the moon about that.

Teenage hero's...Mascara Story
You've been making music under your own name for a while now (with the exception of your 'Sugar Veins' side project), do you feel any greater connection to this newer material?
These recordings are the best I've ever made, period. In terms of the writing and the production side i think they’re many levels above my previous albums and ep’s. Lyrically, as we just talked about, they’re the most diverse and honest set of scribbles i’ve ever compiled. I look at all the music with immense pride because it’s so real to me. I’m not going to lie: being the only person involved also gives me huge satisfaction too. Every musician wants their own studio to make awesome recordings in, so it was cool to be stationed in my own place throughout these years. I’m so comfortable there and it’s set-up completely for my specific workflow. I can only see my recordings progressing as i still have so, so much to learn - and that’s incredibly exciting. I definitely feel more connected to my own music than ever and the translation from head to tape is getting closer all the time.

It's hard to avoid the topic of your first band, so we hope you don't mind a trip down memory lane! A lot of time has passed since then, are you still friends with the guys? (Drummer Jay Dickson & Bassist Sean Keddy)
It’s kind-of scary to know we’ll have ended 10 years ago next month. I mean, Jesus! I’m still friends with both of those guys for sure. I have a lot of respect for both their creative lives since the band broke up.Sean’s an incredibly gifted artist/graphic designer and Jay is the best drummer in the world. Life has taken us three all down different paths, but the respect is still very much alive and kicking amongst us.

Mascara Story 
If, for some as yet undetermined reason, you could go back in time, what advice would you give to that young kid fronting Mascara Story?
Who told you about my patented time machine?! God, I would tell him many, many things. I would tell him to deflate any ego because 3-minute rock songs are hardly rocket science. I would tell him to communicate with his bandmates in person and not over email. I would tell him that criticism isn’t the end of the world. I would tell him to trust others and stop being such a control freak in a collective creative endeavor. Finally, I’d tell him to take time to enjoy things instead of constantly trying to reach the next level as quickly as possible. Oh, and i’d tell him to buy lots and lots of shares in Apple and Facebook.

Sometimes life's various chapters can close for good; Morrissey has said numerous times he will never reform The Smiths, Paul Weller similarly so with The Jam ~ would you ever consider reforming, even for a one off anniversary show?
Not many people know this, but we actually were in the beginning stages of reforming as a band in 2009. So much so, we even recorded a handful of demos and began to make plans - but it just didn’t work over time. There was no fistfights, bad blood or anything dramatic, it just didn’t seem designed to be. I think there are moments where all three of us have that nostalgia burst and consider putting out feelers for a reformation, but it wouldn’t make sense at this point for any of us. It would sound like a totally different band now due to our evolved musical tastes and i’m totally not in love with the 3-piece sound these days at all. An anniversary show is a different beast altogether - that would be an easy few rehearsals, show and then back to our lives. I wouldn’t say no to that, especially if it had a charity angle.

Part two of our exclusive interview with Daveit Ferris is out tomorrow!

& catch all of his new music from the 365 Sparks project here!

Taylor Johnson

throwback ~ colenso parade

by 06:50

Name: Colenso Parade
Genre: Indie-Pop
For Fans Of: The Late Twos, The Beach Boys
Location: Belfast/Omagh

Formed sometime around 2006-2007, the wonderfully named 'Colenso Parade' came to prominence at the crest of a wave which would eventually become Belfast's 'Little Solidarity' movement. Just as General Fiasco, And So I Watch You From Afar, Fighting With Wire and the like began their rapid ascents into the hearts and minds of the city, four lads with acoustic guitars and a love of all things harmonic captured exactly what it was that made that time so special...

Colenso's story originates from nothing more than four school mates hanging out on lazy afternoons and playing music long into the night. Growing up in Omagh, frontman Fergal Lindsay would later tell AU Magazine that, "we just didn't have anything better to do!", and a good thing to, as it is here the band would lay the foundations for what was to come further down the line. For now however, with the slight obstacle of the education system to consider, these first few years were spent writing, growing up and dreaming of what might be.

brothers in arms...and suits

 Fast forward a few years and things are changing for the band. The call of the city has proved too strong and soon Omagh's grasp is loosened, as University looms. It is here that the band's songwriting partnership really begins to bloom, as Fergal and lead guitarist Mickey McCullagh begin taking their craft more seriously. The future of the group is then sealed when the duo move into their new homes, complete with a connecting side street called, you guessed it, Colenso Parade.

Now with their new name and new attitude, the band's sound starts to evolve. The harmonies grow bolder, the influence of classic songwriters like the Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys now beginning to shine through. Songs like 'Don't Mind The Weather' with it's breezy melodies and shimmering guitar work, start flowing, as Colenso begin bombarding magazines and radio stations more and more. (Later, bands like The View and The Fratellies would build a hugely successful career off this 60's inspired blue-print)

Eventually that rigorous work ethic paid off, as AU Magazine (for years the top magazine for local music in the country) gave the band a great review of one of their demos. They kicked on, and like all great local bands soon gathered a loyal following, boosted by their new found notoriety across Belfast. Air play on Across The Line, The Late Show with Stuart Bailie and even Radio 1 followed, as Colenso Parade became one of the biggest bands in Northern Ireland.

Colenso Parade supporting A Plastic Rose in The Limelight
After over five years together, hundreds of shows and a huge amount of memories, Colenso Parade disbanded around 2011. What started with four lads crammed into a garden shed, had ended with a real legacy. Lead guitarist Mickey McCullagh remains a part of the Belfast music scene under the name 'Son Of The Hound'. He released his debut solo album 'Southpaw Ninos' last year. It was awesome.  Bassist Philly Taggart also continues to work in music, now giving young bands opportunities, rather than looking for them! He hosts his own show on BBC Radio 1. It is awesome. Bassist Paul 'Melly' Mellon and frontman Fergal Lindsay both remain similarly involved in the music scene.

A source told us; "All the Colenso boys are all still on good terms. I'd say it's unlikely we'll get another reunion anytime soon, but you never know..."

Taylor Johnson

Son of the Hound will release his new single 'Pilgrim' this Friday.

single review ~ 'LA Dick' ~ abandcalledboy

by 09:18

Name: abandcalledboy
Genre: Alt-Rock
For Fans Of: FIDLAR, Wolf Alice, Rage Against The Machine
Location: Belfast

During the long sorta-hot Summer of 2014, abandcalledboy released a track called 'Cliff Richard'. Here they hailed Cliff as 'the messiah' amongst a barrage of heavy drumming and riffs galore. It was rough, certainly, but within this lay abandcalledboy's charm. They are rough as hell, yet always seem to make it work. Little over a year on and what have these four best friends that anyone can have learned? Well for one thing the importance of a good ol' profile picture. As shown above, the bands brilliant take on the humble stock photo did genuine good for their stance in Belfast. I know it made me give them a second listen, and it was here that my journey back into the lives of  Belfast's noisiest businessmen began...with a look at their latest single, 'LA Dick'.

The first thing we notice about 'LA Dick' is it's driving guitar lines. The bands industrial, almost Krautrock like melodies feel like they've found their place here, as this song swings between a pumped up Kasabian and thundering alt-rock.

Sonically, the band have made mammoth strides forward here. The guitar work is neat, rumbling through the verses, before exploding into that aggressive chorus. It's catchy too, with a FIDLAR like shout thrown in. You can already hear a crowd screaming it back to them, an undoubtedly important element of their live set.

Complete with a remix well worth checking out (props to Keian Roohipour for that one), this must surely be abandcalledboy's best release to date.

Taylor Johnson

'It's a yes from us'

ep review ~ 'treehome ep' ~ treehome

by 11:56

Name: Treehome
Genre: Funk/Soul/Pop
For Fans Of: Robocobra Quartet, Gil Scott-Heron, Rodriguez
Location: Belfast

Treehome is the sound of every cool party your parents/older brother/hip Uncle Sammy never invited you to back in the day. Three young dudes with a soulful grasp of what music should sound like, they fell into the mainstream of Belfast's music scene with their triumphant debut single 'Keep Our Loving Discreet' last year. Now, like a funky Arnold Schwarzenegger, they're back; and armed with a load more groovy tunes to boot.

Opener 'The Very Rude Man', oozes total confidence from the opening guitar strum. Capturing the sound of New York's 60's bohemian scene, Treehome take their time wrapping you up in a song so chilled, it could be one big jam session. There's even room for a break-down of sorts, all trickling lead guitar and a stunning brass section thrown in for good measure.

  'Follow The Lights' takes a similar approach, working off effortlessly brilliant bass lines and frontman Flavelle-Cobain's smooth tones. They stop and start in such perfect harmony, harking back to the great blues musicians of old. The ending refrain also cries out for some audience participation, another of Treehome's strengths. Finisher 'Forbidden Fruit' feels initially quite deep for this upbeat band, nowhere near mournful, but ever so gilted.

'I'm not listening, my head is in the clouds and I'm ready to come down'

They very quickly return to their happy place however, as bass and brass combine to guide this Ep home.

Treehomies of the world, unite and take over. We can't wait to see what this band come up with next!

Taylor Johnson

ni music prize 2015; shortlist announced!

by 15:44

It's that time of year once more, when the good people of Northern Ireland gather to celebrate the best music coming out of this tiny country, and just how far we continue to punch above our weight. Yet again we see an incredibly tight shortlist, with the internationally beloved And So I Watch You From Afar, SOAK and Tim Wheeler all breezing their way into contention. Other strong entries include the beautiful Malojian record 'Southlands' and Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail's stunning ode to the North Coast, 'Sea Legs'.

Having most recently been won by Robyn G Shiels and Foy Vance respectively, could it be time for a rock record to once again scoop NI music's biggest accolade?  Flying the flag for guitar bands is A Plastic Rose, with their massive 'Flickering Light Of An Inner War' and Axis Of, for 'The Mid Brae Inn', another huge sounding album.

Clichéd though it may be, we really can't call this one!

The night (to be held in the Mandela Hall on Friday November 14th) will also feature a special presentation of the Oh Yeah Legend Award to The Divine Comedy, and will see a performance from Neil Hannon himself. 

A list of full nominations below.

Taylor Johnson

A Plastic Rose – Flickering Light of an Inner War

And So I Watch You From Afar – Heirs
Axis Of – The Mid Brae Inn
BeeMickSee – Belfast Yank
Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail – Sea Legs
Duke Special – Look Out Machines
The Lost Brothers – New Songs Of Dawn And Dust
Malojian – Southlands
Not Squares – Bolts
SOAK – Before We Forgot How To Dream
Therapy? – Disquiet
Tim Wheeler – Lost Domain

track of the week ~ 'my mind ain't pretty (at the minute)' ~ aaron shanley

by 14:44

Aaron Shanley is like the ocean. Constantly moving, changing, raging. From sullen-pop soliloquy's, to CSI:NY, there's little the Lisburn songwriter hasn't poured his heart over, and yet he always finds more.

"My Mind Ain't Pretty (At The Minute)" see's a rawer guitar sound than ever before for an Aaron Shanley solo track. Long-term fans will point to 'Startled Space Moth', (Shanley's full band, low-fi adventure) , as a reference point here, but what "My Mind Ain't Pretty..." really does is take his punk roots and breathe new life into them.

Part rallying call, part sonic soul-search, just how Aaron Shanley can so easily trip between genres is quite remarkable. The fact that he does it so well is pretty special.

What upcoming record 'Metal Alligator' holds remains a mystery, but if this first glimpse is anything to go by, Shanley's authentic touch and introspective prose is stronger than ever.

Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'mizaru' ~ robocobra quartet

by 02:28

Robocobra Quartet, a band so clearly obsessed with pushing the sonic boundaries of popular music, have done so again with startling ease on this new record. It is an effortless swim through calmer seas, the crime-novel tension of songs like 'Knotweed' replaced by the sound of this four piece in total harmony.

Allow, if you will, your mind to wander alongside 'Mizaru's floating bass line and light drum beats. I see a hip underground bar-come-library, somewhere in New York  City . The year is 1969 and dreams are in short supply. It is here that Chris Ryan and his band of jazz-inspired lovelies gather. They talk of hope and buy everybody drinks. They tell stories late into the night and smoke and joke, and sometimes they don't do anything at all. That is, until the call of the old drum-set in the corner becomes too much. A small crowd gathers in the back of the bar. A copy of Albert Camus' 'The Stranger' is tossed into the air for no reason in particular. The bar tender, a Filipino affectionately nick-named Paulie, starts chanting 'Robo-cobra! Robo-cobra!'. Its the only English he knows and tonight it's enough.

The band pick up their instruments and without even looking at eachother, they launch into 'Mizaru'.

It is brilliant.

Taylor Johnson

gig news ~ refugee's welcome!

by 06:14

This Saturday, at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast a very special and important gig will be taking place. In aid of the Refugee Crisis which has captured the world's attention, the amazing people at 'Love Music, Hate Racism' have organised a bill of supreme local talent, with all the proceeds going to this great cause.

Usually at this stage in our gig previews we'd take the time to describe each act in detail and why you can't afford to miss out; this time however, we feel the cause for the gig is the most important thing.

On the night the likes of Tour Alaska, Son Of The Hound, Across The Line's Stuart Bailie (DJ Set), Verse Chorus Verse and even Charlie  Loane's new solo project 'Sticky Shadows' will all be playing, and what a wonderful line-up that is. Though for anyone unfamiliar with the acts or local music in general, this is still a great chance to do your part to help people who desperately need it.

All proceeds will go to Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). They work both inside and outside Syria. They operate worldwide and are a medical foundation that provides healthcare to all who need it in war and humanitarian situations. Since May 2015 they have been running rescue missions to save refugees off the coast of Turkey. 

Any items you feel you could spare to help will also be sent to Calais.

Tickets are £10 for evening/full day
£5 for afternoon only. Children under 12 free. 

Afternoon Doors 12.30pm – 5pm - all ages welcome - first act 1pm.

Evening – 7pm – late (over 18s) licensed bar. (first act 7.30pm)

Oh Yeah Music Centre, 15-21 Gordon Street, Belfast, BT1 2LG

If you're free and want to help, it will be incredibly appreciated. 

Everyone is capable of helping ~ see you on Saturday!

Taylor Johnson

Tour  Alaska will play on the night...

single review ~ 'animated angels' ~ high sundays

by 03:30

Name: High Sundays
Genre: Funk/Rock
For Fans Of: The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Treehome
Location: Belfast

Young, driven and very, very loud. Belfast's 'High Sundays' fit this blue-print perfectly, and despite being very new to the music scene here, they've wasted no time in getting their name out there. There's a few reasons at play for this. Firstly, the ambition radiates from this band from the moment you meet them. Always planning, always scheming, looking for a new challenge. Withing the first couple of months of becoming a band they'd already made it through to the final of The Pavilion's prestigious Battle Of The Bands contest, built up a firm following through their funky demos and supported the beloved Serotonin at their farewell roof-top gig in The Oh  Yeah Centre. Not bad. Secondly, they're all really decent dudes. Friendly, personable and always laughing, High Sundays seem to embody their own upbeat tunes off the stage, as well as on it. Earlier released demos such as the excellent 'Racing' (which is really worth a listen), put the band in a good position ~ but could they deliver on their new single?

'Animated Angels' see's High Sundays dabble with electronica for the first time, indeed, upon hearing the first 30 seconds you'd be forgiven for thinking In An Instant had released their new single early! It's eerie, yet unusually house-like. A strange mix, all brought together with a great melody and a smooth vocal from frontman Jack Moran. 

It's hard to talk about this band without mentioning The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who are clearly a mammoth influence. Yes, there's perhaps a Stadium Arcadium vibe running through here if you dig deep enough, though it must be said that 'Animated Angels'  is the biggest step High Sundays have taken to crafting their own personal sound to date. Catchy, chilled and with a huge chorus thrown in for good measure, this, you feel, is High Sundays at their best. When they are writing songs like this, they enter a groovey soundscape dominated so far by the awesome Treehome and very few others.

No doubt High Sundays have the potentiual to stay there too.

Taylor Johnson

news ~ different vibes...

by 03:56

Acoustic songwriters of the world, unite and take over!

Belfast is a city which respects it's acoustic songwriters. We don't demand to see a license in order to play your music in the streets, nor will we confine our buskers to dirt ridden doorways, hidden from view. We're a nation which can appreciate a good tune and as such our open mic scene is still thriving. Though have you ever felt frustrated whilst listening to some young troubadour, pouring their heart out to the sounds of other people talking over them? Been left aggrieved by some guy with a beard's note perfect rendition of Bob Dylan, interrupted by a noisy bar? 

Worry no longer, as Gerry Norman (A Plastic Rose/Tour Alaska) has created the most perfect of environments for the humble open mic within Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre, to combat these problems.

Every Wednesday from 6:30-9pm. Relax in the comfort of Oh Yeahs Cafe Bar which is transformed to a beautiful candle-lit setting for both performer and audience to enjoy, surrounded by iconic memorabilia of Northern Irelands most famous exports. Fantastic beer and wine offers make this night the perfect mid week wind down. To guarantee a spot simply email gerry@ohyeabelfast.com or even just turn up and play. It's free in and every act receives a complimentary drink for performing. House guitar and piano provided.

So far Differnet Vibes has hosted the likes of Son of the Hound, Patrick Gardiner, Travis is a Tourist and Owen McGarry ~ head over to the Different Vibes official Facebook page here, for more details.

Taylor Johnson

ep review ~ 'friday night fever' ~ the couth

by 15:24
The Couth launch their new EP on Friday 9th October, in The Hudson Bar, Belfast

Name: The Couth 
Genre: Indie-Rock
For Fans Of: The Strokes, The Libertines, The Ramones
Location: Lisburn

If Lisburn's The Couth cemented their place amongst Belfast's finest with their debut EP 'Casual Sex  At The Omniplex', last years punk-angled single 'Bloodbreaker' kept them there; but what for new release 'Friday Night Fever'? Could they yet again scale the heights of songs like 'Cycles', 'Down By The River' and 'If You Go'?

The answer comes within the first track, '45 Seconds', the piledriving introduction to a record swimming in melody, attitude and riffs galore. There's plenty to singalong to here, as The Couth's punk anthems continually sway between mosh-pit renegades and sleek indie-dance. As the distortion fades from '45 Seconds' and the last crashing chorus rings out, there's a feeling of real satisfaction here. This is a band sounding united, re-invigorated even. So far, so good.Then comes 'Pretty Lady', simply the bands best work to date.

A swirling mass of energy, 'Pretty Lady' treads the delicate tightrope between guitar slinging-indie rock (a la Libertines) that they do so well, and a 60's Beach Boys swing. Opening with a riff that could have been pinched straight off The Strokes 'Is This It', the track draws you in with one of the bands finest lyrics to date, ("cut my throat but don't take my necklace...") whilst that infectious melody does the rest. Then comes the chorus, an indie waltz both completely unexpected and totally brilliant. After such a strong start you're left just waiting for this songs shortcomings, but as brothers David and Matthew McCrum share vocal duties into 'Pretty Lady's rousing outro, it just doesn't let you down.

Final track 'Wild Notion' is a Black Key's styled bluesy-rock number, covered in guitars and a funky bass line to boot. Once again, The Couth continue to hit the mark on this record with another blinding chorus, and suddenly you understand why this was chosen to close proceedings. Descending into an inspired breakdown (their heaviest since 'Bloodbreaker'), it's the explosive ending this EP deserved.

Welcome back lads, more of the same please!

Taylor Johnson

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