News From The North Week 113 (Hot Press)

30 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.


Words: Edwin McFee


If you’re the kind of reader who loves spiky indie tunes infused with punk rock sucker-punches and life-affirming garage-y goodness then you’ll be positively cock-a-hoop at the news that Belfast’s the Alice Kona Band have just unveiled their brand new track ‘Film’ for your aural pleasure. Snootier than a classroom of six-year olds during flu season, the tune is being given away for free to coincide with their appearance at this year’s Hard Working Class Heroes festival in Dublin (they play the Merchantile on Oct 6 at 12.20am) and you can get your grubby mitts on the single via Fans of the Cribs should check them out.


Speaking of the Hard Working Class Heroes festival (which features 100bands and takes place in Dublin across three venues from Oct 4-6 inclusive) other NI acts making the trip over the border include Eatenbybears (who are at the Merchantile on Oct 6, 11pm), SertOne (Meeting House Square Oct 4, 9.20pm), LaFaro (Meeting House Square, Oct 5, 8pm), Conor Mason (the Grand Social, Oct 6, 7.50pm) and Little Bear (the Grand Social, Oct 6, 7.10pm),  so if you’re in the area check them out. For more details on the event visit


Next up, your humble correspondent has currently been enjoying having his ear-drums battered by the thunderous new Triggerman album Hail To The River Gods. A band that has been well and truly knackering necks of rock fans in their native Derry and beyond for the last few years, their third record is a suitably titanic sounding affair that’s recommended for anyone compelled by the power of the riff (‘Rise Of The Woodsmen’ especially is a future pit anthem). If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing Triggerman before, imagine an aggression-fuelled fusion of Clutch’s grooves and Mondo Generator’s menace and for more information on the quartet check out


Keeping things in a heavier persuasion, the brand new NI super-group known as 7.5 Tonnes Of Beard have just recently debuted their first material online and what a suitably sick, twisted and sludge-laden affair ‘Grit’ is. Featuring a line-up that includes And So I Watch You From Afar’s Johnny Adgar, Residual Effect’s Micky Higgins and Gacys Threads’ Blane Doherty among others, the boys operate under a strict mission statement of becoming the heaviest band on the planet and the results so far is an experience that’s as nasty as an evening of passion with Julie Goodyear. Visit to check them out for yourself.

Master And Dog Q And A (The Big List)

27 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of a Q and A with Master and Dog that ran in the Big List.

Master & Dog Q and A

Continuing our catch-up with some of the music scene’s latest and greatest acts, this month we meet Phil D’Alton, multi-instrumentalist for those un-pigeonhole-able heroes Master & Dog ahead of the release of their second album. Enjoy. 


Hi Phil and welcome to the Big List. First off, your second [self-titled] record is out now. Can you tell us a little bit about it? 

Phil: “Thanks for having me! The second record took about a year to make. We had been talking about it pretty much from when we finished our first record as John, Shelly and the Creatures back in 2010. We started it back in May 2011. At the time we were all broke so we pooled together what little money we had and rented a couple of rooms in an old building in Belfast and set up our own recording studio. We spend a couple of months building walls, painting, running cables etc. Myself and Walter from the band now run it as a business.”


It sounds like the infamous “difficult second album syndrome” well and truly passed you by this time. Was it an easy process making the record?

“For the most part, it wasn’t a hugely difficult process. Myself, Walter and Ger write the songs and most of the time we do this separately so there was no huge pressure on one person. There were a few songs that we had been playing live for a while (our first single ‘Canada’ being one of them) so they were pretty easy to put down. The rest of the tracks were brand new so there was quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing involved with them. We were quite strict on ourselves (for the most part) about not over-thinking anything too much and tried to go with our first instincts.”


You (relatively) recently added multi-instrumentalist Sharon Thompson to the band. Was it easy transition or did it take a while to get everything and indeed everyone gelling together?

“It was extremely easy. Our drummer Kev knew her and suggested we give her a try. We knew it would work straight off. She knew how to play the songs better than us at the first rehearsal. It was a bit embarrassing for us to be honest and made us all up our game.


You’ve also recently teamed up with Canadian label Matchless Minds. How’s everything going with them?

“Great. Nikki [from the label] is a great person to work with and she helps out with other things also. Hopefully the good folk over there will like our stuff when it is released.”


Speaking of all things North American, the video for your new single ‘Canada’ has just been released. Can you tell us a bit about making it?

“The video was made by the Bowsie Workshop in Dublin. I had randomly come across a video for the track ‘We Be Monsters’ by Tieranniesaur and it turned out that I knew Ben, the director, through friends. We met with them and they threw out loads of ideas but the ones that really stuck with us was having someone who had been left behind and having talking buildings. We left it completely up to them to do what they wanted with it. I think after meeting with them we knew that they got what we were looking for and completely trusted them to do something great. We really love it.”


Some of our readers may remember you as John Shelly and the Creatures. What prompted the name change?

“There are many reasons for it. I won’t bore anyone with all of them. The main reason being that people got it wrong all the time. It was always hard for people to remember and most annoyingly, people thought we were a singer/songwriter called John Shelly with a backing band called The Creatures. We never really felt comfortable with it. It was a bit risky changing it after we had a pretty successful year but you have to be able to be proud of what you do in order to do it well and be able to portray that to other people in order for them to believe you. I think we couldn’t do that with Jim, Skelly and the Preachers….”


Master & Dog are one of the few bands who regularly gig both sides of the border. How important is it for you to keep a good profile across the whole of Ireland?

“I don’t think it’s so much of a conscious thing with us. Two of us are from Dublin so I think it helped that we knew the scene a bit down there and it was always a good excuse for us to go home for a bit. We are looking to go much further afield this time with it. We concentrated on it quite a bit when we had a song featured on the Northern Ireland Tourist Board adverts [‘Long May You Reign’] and it made sense to do it at the time.”


Finally, what’s the rest of 2012 have in store for Master & Dog?

“At the moment we are releasing the album at the end of August and then we have a few gigs planned across the country. After that we are planning to go back over to the UK and also over to Germany for some gigs. Top of our priorities is to get the album out to as many people as possible and we hope that people like it.”


‘Master & Dog’ is out now. For more info visit 

Metal Hammer Review: Arthemis ‘We Fight’

25 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my review of the new Arthemis record that ran in Metal Hammer.




Formed by Andy Martongelli back in ’99, Arthemis are a power thrash quartet who specialise in decapitation by guitar. We Fight is their seventh studio offering and, as you might expect from the title, it’s a punchy, sabre-rattling call to arms that’s crammed with galloping riffs, gonzoid solos and stratospheric melodies. Opening with the short instrumental Apocalyptic Nightmare, the band get down to business on Empire and for the next 50minutes or so it’s a fast and furious race to the finish line with the odd detour down power ballad alley (Alone) thrown in to break things up. Boasting some truly awesome vocals courtesy of Fabio Dessi that at times sound a little like Joey Belladonna after one too many sugary snacks (Blood Of Generations) and frenetic, fromage-infused anthems (Metal Hammer) We Fight is a riot to listen to. Star of the show is Martongelli and his lightning quick riffing and silky smooth transitions from balls to the wall chug-fests to melodic solos is almost other-worldly and he helps make this a must buy for fans of the genre. [8]


News From The North Week 112 (Hot Press)

24 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.


Words: Edwin McFee

This issue I’m pleased to bring you news on the final line-up for the various music-based events at this year’s Culture Night Belfast, which has expanded faster than Axl Rose’s waistline since I last mentioned the bash in the previous issue. Taking place in the centre of the city on Friday Sep 21, the programme now includes Best Boy Grip, the Bonnevilles and Sons Of Caliber performing at the John Hewitt bar (from 6pm-10pm), an acoustic set from singer/songwriter David Paul at the Good Book Shop (from 7.30pm-9pm), Soak, Katherine Philippa and Ciaran Lavery appearing at St. Anne’s Cathedral (starting at 4.30pm) and Girls Names, Third Man Theme and Blue Whale playing the Oh Yeah Centre (7pm-1am) too. With magic shows, performance poetry, burlesque evenings, lindy hop events and a shed-load more all planned, this year’s Culture Night Belfast is shaping up to be the best yet and you can view the full line-up at


Next up, if you’re currently reading this latest missive clad in wellies, a rain coat and, erm, hopefully some sort of trouser/skirt combo and are yearning to go to one more festival before we all get smothered in the icy embrace of Jack Frost, then I bring you good news-a brand spanking new bash called GrassStock has just been launched and it takes place in Belfast on Oct 13 at the Haymarket Arcade and Hudson Bar. Specialising in Americana, bluegrass, roots and alt-country, some of the acts include Acoustic Dan & the Black Mountain River Dipsos, Wookalily and the Down and Out Bluegrass Band and for more details check out


Fresh from supporting Frightened Rabbit on their just finished Irish tour, those fine purveyors of outsider indie sounds Amidships continue their unstoppable rise to greatness this fortnight with news of an in-store show at Tower Records Dublin on Friday, Sep 28 at 7pm. The band, who has earned rave reviews in this very magazine, also play the G Sessions at the Cellar Bar, Draperstown on Sep 22 and the University of Ulster Students’ Union in Coleraine on Nov 2 and I’ll have more Amidships infortmation over the weeks to come (#Mysterious).


Finally this fortnight, at the time of writing the relatively new kids on the block My Sunday Hat has just unleashed their self-titled debut EP out into the wild. Comprising of three classic rock songs (the solo in ‘Cold Winter’ will make you want to air grab like your life depended on it) you can have a listen via so check it out.

Therapy? Gifted Live

23 10 2012

Following on from yesterday’s post mentioning Therapy?s headline slot at Gifted Live in Belfast, here’s some footage the boys shot of the gig.

If you look closely you can spot yours truly at the left hand side of your screen standing on the raised bit by the twinkly lights, having a wee drink and a head bob.

News From The North Week 111 (Hot Press)

22 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press. Yes, there’s a back-log of these.Sozzles!


Words: Edwin McFee

By the time you get your grubby little hands on this latest issue, NI’s favourite sons Therapy? will have just finished unleashing their very own day of rockening at the Tall Ships in Dublin. Now, if you read that last sentence and are currently lamenting your decision not to visit Ireland’s capital to see the trio unleash hell itself in the form of barbed riffs and songs about James Joyce doing dirty things with Andy Cairns’ sister, then fret no more faithful readers, as it has literally just been announced at the time of writing that the boys will be playing a headline show in Belfast at the Empire Music Hall on October 4.


Topping the bill at the always ace Gifted Live extravaganzas, the gig will be the first time Therapy? have played in the venue since their near mythic date in 2000 and this full-on set should see airings of some of their new material from current LP A Brief Crack Of Light,so it’s shaping up to be a bit special. Also on the bill are Fighting With Wire, the Original Rudeboys, Silhouette, Jason Clarke and Robert Vincent and there will be special recorded appearances from Mojo Fury and more. Admission is a mere £10 and for more info check out See you down the front.


Next up, well thought of Bangor indie types Kowalski have bagged themselves the support slot on the Cast of Cheers’ upcoming Irish tour. Kicking off in Whelan’s, Dublin on Sep 19, the rest of the dates include Roisin Dubh, Galway (Sep 20) Dolan’s, Limerick (Sep 21), the Forum, Waterford (Sep 22), the Pavilion, Cork (Sep 23) and the Limelight, Belfast (Sep 24). The band will also be joining Two Door Cinema Club for seven dates on their European tour this November and for a full run down check out


The organisers behind the immense Belfast Culture Night have revealed some details on this year’s shin-dig (which takes place on Sep 21). The mighty Kasper Rosa, Eatenbybears and Parachutes Over Paris all play a sure to incendiary show at the Black Box in the city and to keep updated on the event visit


Finally this fortnight, news has just broken that the Answer have inked a deal with Napalm Records. Yes folks, the legendary home of all things loud and lairy now have Cormac and the boys in their stable and in a group statement they said:


“We’re very excited to be given this opportunity and can’t wait to get started. 2013 belongs to THE ANSWER…you heard it here first!”

News From The North Week 110 (Hot Press)

21 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.


Words: Edwin McFee

First up this issue I’m pleased to bring you a story that will warm the cockles of your cold, black hearts. Picture the scene, if you will. On a (possibly) warm and sunny day at the start of August (just go with it…) a young 11 year old lad from Pennsylvania called Will strode onstage alongside his mates to perform a song at Camp Lindenmere. With all and sundry expecting to hear a cover of the tried and tested likes of Nirvana (snore) and Maroon 5 (the horror!) then clap politely afterwards, the plucky pre-teen opted to think outside the box and showed off his impeccable taste by choosing to perform ‘Tupenny Nudger’ by Belfast’s very own rock beasts LaFaro instead. Awesome, eh? As if that wasn’t cool enough, it’s all been captured on video and you can have a watch here Proof, if ever it were needed, that youth isn’t always wasted on the young. More of this sort of thing!


Next up, those generous souls Unquiet Nights have decided to treat you all by making four tracks from their ace album 21st Century Redemption Songs free to download via their site So, if you haven’t had a chance to check out this promising rock ‘n’ roll band, now’s your chance. The trio, who are based in NI and Italy, have been receiving a bit of airplay from 2fm at the moment and if you’re a fan of the Charlatans, Tom Petty and rock songs with classic choruses then you should have a listen.


Speaking of “promising,” Dungannon singer/songwriter Chris Steenson (AKA Cedric Has A Name) has just announced he’s teaming up with Canadian label Matchless Minds. The company, who are operating in Belfast as well as Ottowa and Dublin, have previously released offerings by The Man Whom, VerseChorusVerse and Master & Dog and this latest union will no doubt be a fruitful one (that sounds kinda dirty, doesn’t it?). For more info on Cebric Has A Name visit


Finally this issue, it’s with a heavy heart that we inform you that indie outfit Morning Claws are sadly no more. At the time of writing, the band will be preparing to play their final show at the Forfey Festival and afterwards that’s it from the well-respected up and comers. If you want to remember the good times, visit and over the months ahead we’ll keep you updated on the further adventures of the group’s former members. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to mourn their passing by playing ‘Gone Too Soon’ by Michael Jackson on repeat. Sniff.

News From the North Week 109 (Hot Press)

20 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my NI music news column that runs every fortnight in Hot Press.


Words: Edwin McFee

Fresh from kicking many an ass and taking their respective names at Glasgowbury, the incendiary Empty Lungs continue their rise to NI rock royalty this fortnight with the news that they’re set to support San Franciso punks Dead To Me on their up-coming Irish tour.  Kicking off on Aug 18 at Fibber Magee’s, Dublin, the four-piece also share the stage with the Fat Wreck Chords signed Americans in the Warzone Centre, Belfast on Aug 19 and both dates are recommended for anyone with even a shred of interest in impassioned punk and rock. Generous souls that they are, Empty Lungs have just recently made their ace single ‘Identity Lost’ (plus two other songs) available for free too and you can snag them at Doooo iiiiittttt.


Next up, irrepressible alt-rock trio Axis Of have just unveiled their plans for their total domination of Ireland. Dubbed the 32 Counties tour and inspired by Irish artists, poets, writers, creatives and musicians through the centuries (nope, I’m don’t really know what they mean by that either), the band perform at least one show in each county over the next three months or so and some of the key dates for your respective diaries include Harrison’s, Dundalk (Aug 10), Voodoo, Belfast (Aug 11) and the “we’re not sure how they’re going to manage it” four gigs in four counties on one day event that takes place at Essaness Music, Kilkenny, TBC, Wexford, John Palmer Music, Waterford and Belly Bang, Tipperary on Aug 25. The boys will also be announcing extra gigs over the next few months to tie in with their up-coming release of their debut album Finding St. Kilda and for more details visit


Snow Patrol frontman and all-round local lad made good Gary Lightbody has confirmed he’s just filmed a bit part for Sky Atlantic’s battles and boobies TV show Game Of Thrones. Filmed in the north, the popular (though slightly pervy) programme is a bit of a hit with the general public and while the singer didn’t dish too much dirt on his role he took to Facebook to post up a suitably muddy looking photo of himself. Nice…


Finally this fortnight I’ve just enough room to tell you noise rockers Comply Or Die and Mudbitch have teamed up to play three dates down south this August. Kicking off on the 9th at Fibber Magee’s, Dublin, the bands then play Fred Zeppelin’s, Cork on Aug 10 and the Blind Pig, Limerick on Aug 11 so if you’re in the area check them out as they rule the proverbial school.

Foo Fighters At Tennent’s Vital Review (Hot Press)

19 10 2012

Here’s a reprint of my review of Foo Fighters’ headline slot at this year’s Tennent’s Vital that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.


Tennent’s Vital, Boucher Playing Fields, Belfast

Ever since it was first announced that Dave Grohl and his band of genuinely merry men would be playing Belfast for the first time as part of the Tennent’s Vital festival, there has been more than a smidge of excitement emanating from the black t-shirt-clad rock community north and south of the border. Normally an event associated with indie, pop and hip hop acts, tonight’s bill sees those who love their bands turning the amps up to 11 get their turn and after being suitably warmed up by the likes of Trucker Diablo, the Minutes, the Cribs and the Black Keys, Hot Press heads towards the pit to watch the Foo Fighters pop the city’s cherry up close and personal.


Making their way onstage bright and early at 8.30pm, the boys tear straight into ‘White Limo’ followed immediately by ‘All My Life’ prompting thousands of people to push their way to the front and even provoking the odd lost soul to whip out their air guitar (bless). As introductions go, it’s a hell of a way to start the set and from there Grohl’s rock juggernaut fires on all cylinders, taking the fans on a trip down memory lane and visiting all seven records along the way.


“Has anyone seen us before? We used to suck,” offers the frontman in an attempt to apologise for his band’s way overdue visit and while it doesn’t exactly make up for the fact that they never bothered their holes coming to Belfast over the last two decades, the crowd certainly appreciates the sentiment. This evening every rock cliché is served up to festival goers on a plate and the 30 000 plus in audience lap up every morsel. We get mass singalongs, an airing of a few bars of the over-played Stiff Little Fingers cut ‘Alternative Ulster’ (*cringe*), a huge, fuck-off cat-walk for Dave to walk up and down on and even a backstage camera just in case the crowd haven’t seen enough of the hairy ones.


There are numerous highlights over the next two plus hours. ‘Hey, Johnny Park!’ is a particular treat thanks to its old school melodic metallic riff and the almost proggy sounds of ‘Rope’ works really well live and ‘Learn To Fly’ and ‘Monkey Wrench’ has the desired effect on the fair weather fans too.


By the time we get to the encore, which initially features the frontman playing ‘Wheels’ solo, we start to think about just how far the band have come over the last 17 or so years. What began as a side project (that saw Grohl regularly brick it onstage due to nerves during those first few gigs) has grown into a bona fide rock monster and he’s now a fairly consummate frontman to boot. In fact he even good-naturedly berates a fan for fiddling around on her mobile phone before playing ‘Breakout’ and delights in wishing tour manager Josh happy birthday onstage and the whole gig has felt extremely assured all night.


Signing off with ‘Everlong,’ the band state that it won’t take them as long to return to Belfast and while we don’t believe a word of it it’s clear that the crowd will always cherish their first time with the Foo Fighters.


‘Gallows’ Review (Hot Press)

18 10 2012

In a week or so I have to start putting together a list of my favourite records of 2012 for the magazines I write for and this bad boy will almost certainly be up there near the top.

Here’s a reprint of my review of the insanely good new Gallows LP that ran in Hot Press a few issues ago.


Gallows (Venn Records)

Four and a half Stars

Key Track: ‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’


In many ways Gallows’ third record is a massive fuck you to anyone who doubted the band could continue delivering neck-bothering pit anthems in the wake of the departure of their iconic frontman Frank Carter. A snarling, scintillating slab of sonic violence that is so joyously abrasive it should come with a government health warning, new recruit (and former Alexisonfire man Wade MacNeil) effortlessly conducts the carnage throughout 11 tracks, invoking the likes of Poison Idea, Agnostic Front and Sick Of It All yet still sounding like their very own monster. There are numerous highlights on this incendiary release-‘Vapid Adolescent Blues’ is one of the best punk songs this writer has heard in years and ‘Everybody Loves You (When You’re Dead)’ is a riotous mash-up of Murder City Devils’ swagger and all-out smash-mouth hardcore, but pretty much everything is essential listening. Highly recommended.