track review ~ 'sad songs' ~ january

by 04:30

Name: January
Genre: Alt-Emo
For Fans Of: Weezer, Yuck, Mooseblood
Location: Belfast

Three piece alternative-emo outfit January's debut offering is very exciting indeed. Taking influence from the likes of Modern Baseball, here we see a band built upon witty, honest lyricism, a raw guitar sound and pure 3am on a cold, winters morning nostalgia. January could be a perfect compliment to the likes of Junk Drawer and Hot Cops, who are slowly carving out their own emo scene.

For those who grew up on Weezer's blue album, there's a lot to get into here. It's bleak as hell, but in a really good way.

Taylor Johnson

vc records ~ volume 1 .

by 09:55

In no particular order, here are the eight chosen tracks for the debut Volume Control Records album!

#1. The Remedy ~ 'Different Class'

Music and Lyrics by The Remedy

The story of Belfast lads The Remedy is a fascinating tale, and one practically already in Belfast folklore. Formed by three school mates sometime around 2011, the band's earliest days consisted of countless jam sessions in lead guitarist Daniel Donaghy's attic and listening to the indie gospel of Oasis. Inspired, they began writing their own tunes and very quickly immersed themselves in Belfast's gigging scene, despite their young age. Slowly, the band built up a large following as they began supporting the likes of Echo Raptors, The Late Twos and The Couth, to name a few. Then, after one fateful trip to Sunflower Fest, their style began evolving to include trumpets and groove to their bedrock indie, a unique formula. It proved to be a good move! All this  resulted in the release of their debut single 'Different Class', a huge anthem which got them radio airplay all across Belfast and expanded their fan base further. Now gearing up for their long-awaited debut Ep, the time looks and feels right for this excellent band.

#2. Jealous of the Birds ~ 'Goji Berry Sunset'

Music & Lyrics by Naomi Hamilton

Dripping in sweetness, 'Goji Berry Sunset' was 18 year old bedroom musician Naomi Hamilton's introduction to the world of the recording artist. As first impressions go, it's near flawless, as a host of radio play, gig opportunities and kind words can attest to. Having swooned her way out of her native Portadown and into Belfast hearts, Hamilton need not be jealous for too much longer; watch this very special talent take flight in 2016.

#3. SALAD BOYZ ~ 'T-4-2'

Music by SALAD BOYZ, Lyrics by Tommy Haghighi

Sharing a love of 90's noise-rock, friendship and captivating lyricism, there may not be a single band quite like SALAD BOYZ anywhere in Britain or Ireland today. Emerging earlier this year, the four piece take the punk roots of their home city and add a timelessly melodic flavor to proceedings, culminating in the sort of explosive live shows long thought left behind in 'the good ol' days'. 'T-4-2' is the sensitive jewel in their ever expanding crown, complete with beautifully intricate guitar lines and a massive chorus. A band already steeped in history (check out their Facebook profile for more on that...), SALAD BOYZ are one band guaranteed to never sell out.

#4. Young G ~ 'It's On Now'

Music and Lyrics by Young G

'Young G', aka Gershom Kaoma, is a musician living off pure perseverance. Growing up in the small town of Ballyclare, his first foray into the world of rap came through a series of home made bedroom tapes, where he plied his trade through an avalanche of lyrics. After honing his flow down to a tee, he then moved on to forming his first band 'The Project Sound', a three piece hip-hop group made up of The Sea, Close By's Alastair Greyson and producer Andy Christie. Hugely promising singles followed, as well as the awesome 'Nude Street' Ep, but unfortunately for Kaoma, University saw the band part ways. After a self-set hiatus of songwriting and fine-tuning his art, Young G is now ready to revitalize the Northern Irish rap scene. Work on his debut solo mix-tape 'Method To The Madness' has just been completed, and with it this first monster of a single.

#5. Shadow Police ~ 'Sleep Tonight'

Music and Lyrics by Shadow Police

Matthew Duly is no stranger to the stage. A graduate of the Oh Yeah Centre's 'Scratch My Progress' talent programme, the young songwriter has won over countless audiences over the years with his huge voice and tender lyrics. Now, having ditched the glam-rock noise of previous band 'Lipstick Lizards', Duly finds himself on the frontline armed only with a synth and a microphone in new band Shadow Police. An electronic two piece reminiscent of New Order, Shadow Police have already amassed an impressive list of accomplishments so far. Having rocked Barnfest, Stendhal Festival and some of the countries top gig nights, it won't be long before they take their electronic harmonies far from these shores. 'Sleep Tonight' is their first single, and what a start it is.

#6. Little Arcadia ~ 'Anywhere Else'

Music by Little Arcadia, Lyrics by Eunan Brown

An anthemic call to arms, this title track from Coleraine four piece Little Arcadia's latest EP is proof that the weight of expectation on a band isn't necessarily always a bad thing. Now into their fourth year together, 'Anywhere Else', with it's hooky verses and punky guitar tones, show just how far this young group have come since their early days on electronic drum-kits. Having conquered the vast majority of the North Coasts stomping grounds over the years, 2016 may be the year we see them finally take Belfast by storm. Taking influence from ASIWYFA and General Fiasco, we see no reason why they won't!

#7. Maeve McPherson ~ 'Drugstore Dream Girl'

Music and Lyrics by Maeve McPherson

Maeve McPherson is the wide eyed, bedroom dreamer from your favorite teenage fiction novel and she makes no apologies for it. Armed with an abundance of intoxicating lyrics, her melodically crafted pop songs fall somewhere between Kate Bush and Ellen Page in the movie 'Juno', charming, honest and warm. Still a member of the Underground Club, 2016 should see Maeve McPherson really push on, and not a moment too soon.

#8. The Bayonettes ~ '2 Miles For Me Is 1000 For You'

Music by The Bayonettes, Lyrics by Danny McClelland

North Coast representatives The Bayonettes thrive off a good story, a trait personified by their frontman Danny Clelland. 2014's 'Post-Kiss' Ep was a lyrical triumph, taking on the tricky concept album with total ease.  Latest single '2 Miles For Me...' takes things a step further, as the band really begin to capture their own unique sound. Distorted guitars, anthemic chorus' and wanderlust lyrics; The Bayonettes have found themselves within this single.

More info and an events page coming soon via Volume Control!

Taylor Johnson

news ~ records

by 09:54

Hi guys! 

Today we've some incredible news we've been dying to announce for some time now.

From our inception back in 2013 Encore NI  has always strived to do everything we can to help the Northern Irish music scene and the artists which make it so special. Along the way we've met some incredible other people who share our philosophy ('Through The Wall' on Blast 106, Hidden Machine Promotions, Across The Line on Radio Ulster, the Spectrum Festival team etc...) and who we have had the pleasure of working alongside. We are proud to announce that we can now add the wonderful Volume Control team to this list! Together we are teaming up to help shape 'Volume Control Records', a non-profitable record label designed to help push local artists on even further.

After an incredibly difficult selection process, we have chosen eight emerging local acts to submit tracks which will form our very first compilation record. This will of course mean a physical and digital release and as big a promotional push as possible to go alongside it!

The purpose of VC Records is to shine a light on these hugely talented artists and get their music heard. If you feel you can help in any way with promoting the album, either through radio play, reviews, blog posts or simply social media support, it would be massively appreciated by the VC Records team and the artists themselves.

We will now reveal the eight chosen track and a little about them...

Thanks for your support!


Encore NI//Volume Control Records

track of the week ~ 'come the night' ~ in an instant

by 05:43

After eighteen long years of touring the world, U2 ~  Ireland's Beatles and pop-record breakers supreme ~ finally returned to Belfast last week.

They blasted their way through a set spanning three decades, captivating an audience who have, quite literally, grown up with their music. One such example stood loyally in the front row, engrossed by the sight and sound of the biggest band in the world; his name is Mark Hegan, and as the frontman of Bangor's beloved In An Instant the idea of one day taking to the famous Odyssey Arena* must be ever-present. For the band themselves, their own absence from the stage must no doubt feel like eighteen years! After extensive touring for their debut EP 'Light You Know and Love', the band took some time out to regroup, relax and attempt the follow up to one of 2014's most highly acclaimed local records...

For any band's with an electronic edge, finding a distinct sound can be more difficult than you might think. Somehow In An Instant have found their voice within the synths. Be this through Mark Hegan's driving rhythm guitar work (which sounds punchier than ever before here, we might add) or the band's total devotion to a strong melody remains open for debate; what isn't, however is the undeniable quality of this 21st century pop song.

Part of the reason In An Instant's debut caught so many off guard was the feel-good nature of most of the tracks. Even those swimming in melancholy, where Hegan sounded close to combustion, retained a dance like-element. A quick look around some of the UK's biggest charting bands and you'll see evidence of this formula everywhere; The Cure ~ 'Just Like Heaven', The 1975 ~ 'Sex', anything by Morrissey etc, etc. None of these you'd call joyous anthems, yet if they came on in a club you'd no doubt see a full dancefloor and in 'Come The Night' that special element is greater than ever before.

Whilst the band continue to carve out their own path stylistically, there's no denying the huge stadium rock elements that continue to grow on every release. Guitarist Ryan Davison's riff's here sparkle like Coldplay's Jonny Buckland, whilst the slow-down's in the second verse add weight to Hegan's emotional lyricism.

It was never going to be easy following 'A Light You Know and Love', yet here we are again.

To paraphrase their frontman, 'Come The Night' is not just alright, it's pretty damn beautiful.

Taylor Johnson

* or SSE, if you're into that sort of thing.

news: pleasure beach debut new video for 'go'

by 03:12

Belfast dreamers Pleasure Beach have recorded a new video for single 'Go' and it's the perfect compliment to their melodic soundscapes.

Recorded earlier this year, 'Go' remains the focal point of a band who's meteoric rise across the country shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Taken from their new EP 'Dreamer To The Dawn' , you can check out what we had to say about the single here & watch the music video below⁞►

Pleasure Beach will support The Vaccines in The Limelight 1, December 9th
Taylor Johnson

news ~ the late twos announce annual christmas show

by 03:40

Belfast's favorite indie-pop collective will return to The Longfellow Bar in East Belfast this December for their annual Christmas gig. 

The Matty Legge fronted five piece, who will release crowd favorite 'Sierra Leone' as their next single in the new year, have used the night in the past as an opportunity to help break younger Belfast bands to a new audience. This includes indie-ska rascals The Remedy, the alt-rock stylings of Paper Man (now The Sea, Close By) and The Left Backs; adding to the list this year our local lads Buffalo's Bay, a young psychedelic-inspired band which includes Modern Life Is Rubbish veteran Andy Bell on vocals.

After another year of astonishing success for the band, which has seen them undergo yet more successive touring, plus support slots with Vant and The Bohicas, this years Christmas show promises to be the best yet...even if many questions still remain.

For example...will bassist Ryan Costley have his own personalised Northern Irish football Christmas jumper?

How much Buckfast can one band truly consume?

& finally, will television chef Ainsley Harriot really be making a brief, if eventful, cameo appearance during 'Never Mind'?

Only time will tell...

Taylor Johnson

the uk blog sound of 2016

by 05:29

The exciting times just keep coming for us here at Encore NI, and today we are proud to announce that we have been asked to take part in 'The UK Blog Sound of 2016' poll!

Alongside Chordblossom and The Metaphorical Boat, we have been asked to select the three best acts emerging from the UK this year, in an exclusive poll set up by some of the biggest music blogs in Britain. Last year the poll was picked up by producers from BBC Radio 1, music journalists at The Guardian and hundreds of major music publications across UK; so the opportunities are there for the most successful acts.

Naturally, we feel the best music around today is right here in Northern Ireland, so who do you feel we should vote for? Let us know on Facebook here, or Twitter here, using the hashtag #blogsoundof2016.

Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'growing pains' ~ sister ghost

by 04:43

If we know anything about Shannon O'Neill at this stage, it's that she doesn't care what you think.

Rarely will you find an artist in this technologically suffocating world so steadfast in this attitude. Opinions are everywhere and the internet have created a new space for them to occupy they didn't before. The fact that the overwhelming opinion of Shannon's hard working alter ego 'Sister Ghost' is one of high praise and excitement, matters little. You feel all she cares about is the sound, and based on new single  'Growing Pains' it's a philosophy that's serving her very well indeed.

Still maintaining that Sonic Youth fuzz from her earliest work, 'Growing Pains' is an ode to the death of childhood and realities of adult-life. There's sprinklings of Johnny Marr on the guitar work, whilst the breakdown and spoken word interludes give things a real haunted 90's vibe. Throughout, O'Neill sounds confident and fierce.

Having successfully captured Sister Ghost's energy here, the live potential of this track is bursting from the seams; more of the same please, Sister.

Taylor Johnson

news; sound of belfast make waves across the capital

by 03:27
For some time now, Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre has worked tirelessly to remain the epicenter of the music industry for young people, and those trying to find their place within it. Be that in the beautifully maintained rehearsal rooms, the various recording studios and labels or indeed on stage, whatever you're into, the Oh Yeah Centre will support you.

For 'Sound of Belfast' month this year, the Oh Yeah Centre (alongside the dedicated Volume Control team) has been running various events to encourage young people's interest in the industry, starting with 'Signed and Delivered', a competition ran by The National Skills Academy. Here groups from Belfast Metropolitan College and the North West  Regional College were brought together to manage the career of Shannon O'Neill, aka 'Sister Ghost'; planning out everything from her debut single, right up to a full album launch, via the Glastonbury Introducing stage.

Sister Ghost will perform at the Scratch My Progress album launch this Thursday in the Oh Yeah Centre...

Mentored and guided by a panel of industry experts which included the likes of Davy Matchett of Third Bar Management, Jeff Robinson of Jeff Robinson PR and (incredibly) our very own Taylor Johnson, each team then created and developed their own presentations to pitch to the artist herself, as well as the Oh Yeah's CEO Stuart Bailie.

After two detailed and enthusiastic pitches, a draw was declared, with Stuart claiming that "If Shannon could sign to both of your labels, she would!". 

This strong start to the week continued yesterday, as BBC Radio Ulster's Peter Cinnamond then stepped in to brilliantly compère the Oh Yeah's 'Breaking into Music Conference', a day filled with Q&A's with yet more industry professional's (including representatives from Island Records & Smalltown America), a personal tour of the building and live sets from Connor Scott, Gemma Bradley and Volume Control Team DJ's. 

Attracting a huge crowd, it was inspiring to see so many young people leaving with not only a greater understanding of the music business, but a greater belief in it to.  

As summed up by Stuart Bailie, "Anyone who tells you the music industry is on its way out is completely wrong".

If a little solidarity goes a long way, imagine just how far this week will take us? Exciting times!

Continuing to inspire...The  Oh Yeah Centre's CEO Stuart Bailie

track review ~ 'hayley' ~ pleasure beach

by 03:02

When asked what song he wished he'd written during his career, there was only one answer for The 1975's Matt Healy. "Cyndi Lauper - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". Undoubtedly a great pop-record, but perhaps an unusual choice for a young indie pin-up. Delve a little deeper however, and you start to hear what Healy was talking about. There's a fragility to Lauper's voice, a genuine fear beneath the synths and that bittersweet melody; it's a formula evident in countless 1975 songs and so to with Belfast's coolest dream-pop band, Pleasure Beach.

Here they take the gentle, lamenting grace of Fleet Foxes 'Ragged Wood' and bring their own porcelain sheen to the table. Like a bubble, you feel it's a sound so beautiful it could burst at any moment. One thing Pleasure Beach do very well  is create a wonderful soundscape, and Hayley is no exception.

Having just been announced to support The Vaccines in Belfast and Dublin this December, the Pleasure Beach juggernaut is showing no sings of slowing down anytime soon.

Big things ahead.

Taylor Johnson

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