News From The North Weeks 59 and 60

6 09 2010

Yup, it’s been a while since I posted up the Hit the North column I do for Hot Press, so here’s the last four for y’all (two today and two tomorrow) and as usual-if you’re in a band from Northern Ireland and have news for me, get in touch.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

With Glasgowbury just around the corner (July 24 in case you didn’t already know) we thought we’d dedicate this issue’s column to some of the bands who will be appearing at the bash in Draperstown, County Derry. First up, we’ve got some good news as headliners Fighting with Wire seem to be stirring from their self-imposed slumber and it appears that their plans for album number two are coming together nicely. In a bid to prove to us all that they’ve been spending their time off wisely, they’ve posted up a studio diary from Nashville on their MySpace page (www.myspace.com/fightingwithwire) and they’re promising there’s more to come, which makes this writer a very happy bunny indeed.

FWW’s label mates LaFaro have also been indulging in web-based wonders ahead of their Glasgowbury slot and have unveiled their very own smart-phone app. If you’re into that kind of wizardry, you can now download the application for free and get news, tour dates, photos, music and more onto your mobile and it’ll keep all you nerds up to date on their activities.

 Mojo Fury frontman Michael Mormecha’s vaudeville-flavoured side project Clown Parlour have taken the unprecedented step of making their debut album The Sum Of Sounds available for free this fortnight via their Bandcamp page (http://clownparlour.bandcamp.com) and very good it is too. After wowing us all with their technicolour performance at last year’s Glasgowbury, we’re keen to see how they fare this year (considering everyone can now listen to the album at their leisure) and we’re expecting them to steal the show, so make sure you check them out.

General Fiasco are another act who are sure to get tongues wagging, especially now that their debut Buildings is out on record shop shelves. As well as doing a turn in Draperstown, the three-piece will be playing at (deep breath) Sonisphere in Knebworth, the Underage festival in London, Summer Sonic 2010 in Japan, the Frequency festival in Austria, Highfield festival in Denmark and Reading and Leeds at the end of the summer, so if you’re on your holidays and happen to be in any of those places, make sure you go and support them.

Finally, we’ll leave you with some gossip to chew on. Just recently we’ve heard that while last year’s Glasgowbury headliners And So I Watch You From Afar aren’t officially slated to appear on the bill this year, expect some sort of appearance from band members during the course of the day. Details on where and when are scarce at the time of going to press (he said mysteriously…).

News

Words: Edwin McFee

By the time you read this, your humble correspondent (and countless others) will no doubt be scrubbing off the mud and muck from Glasgowbury and generally feeling a bit bummed out that the festival season is near over. However, it’s not all doom and gloom, as the West Belfast Feile (www.feilebelfast.com) is just about to kick off and on the local front they’ve got a cracking gig in the grounds of City Hall to keep us out of trouble on August 7. Featuring the likes of Mojo Fury, Axis Of and the Vals on the bill, the gig starts at 2pm.

 Now, on to news of a slightly more salacious nature. The absolute beast of a band that is Dutch Schultz have been busy beavering away behind the scenes recently and they’ve just filmed a video for their new single ‘LA Cuntfucker’ (they’re silver-tongued devils, aren’t they?). According to a band insider, the clip, which features go-go dancers and local burlesque troupe the Whistlebait Babies, was also slated to feature an appearance from local musician/actress Cara Cowan, but she pulled out fearing it would damage her image (we can’t think why….). Anyway, the track itself is a fantastically blood thirsty three minutes or so that should do well for the boys when it gets an official release date.

Lisburn based lovers of epic alternative rock Deadlights have very kindly made their ace new EP ‘Pieces. Ripcord. Words’ available to download for free this month. All you have to do to get your virtual mitts on the three track release is click on http://deadlights.bandcamp.com and it’s as simple as that. The four-piece are also streaming some new songs on their MySpace site (www.myspace.com/deadlights08) and as ever the band have a string of live dates coming up which include playing in Moira on August 5, Lisburn on August 13 and the Sunflowerfest in Hillsborough on August 20.

Speaking of festivals, the rock ‘n’ roll killing machine that is Trucker Diablo continue their quest to kick as many asses as possible by playing a show at the Rock & Blues Custom Show festival in Derbyshire on July 30. Also on the bill are legends such as Wishbone Ash and for more information check out www.rockandblues.uk.com.

Finally, it’s with a certain amount of sadness that we announce that the Black Bear Saloon have closed their metaphorical doors for good. The four-piece have decided to go their separate ways after three years together and we’d like to wish all the band members luck in their future endeavors. Now, somebody hand us a hanky. Sniff.

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Hot For 2010

2 02 2010

Last December I was asked to suggest a list of some of the best new Irish bands for Hot Press’ Hot for 2010 feature (that ran in last fortnight’s issue). I sent off a batch of names of people who I thought were doing something a little different and most of ’em made the shortlist. Below is four of my picks, who I interviewed for the spread. Go check ’em out and see what you think.

Hot For 2010

No Mean City

“It all kinda started through a mutual friend,” begins No Mean City’s uber vixen Jilly St John. “I had been making little guest appearances on friends’ acoustic sets while out on the raz and I got a buzz from it, so I basically texted everyone I knew telling them that I’d like to start a band. I was introduced to Paul [Monk, guitar] a few days later and we had written our first two tracks together within the week.”

While they may only be babbies in the NI music scene (they formed a handful of months ago) the Derry native’s live shows have already got tongues wagging from those in the know. Fronted by former model Jilly, the quartet’s penchant for drunken tattoo parties mixed with their ability to craft a sugary hook over a satisfyingly chunky riff have marked them out to be a very exciting prospect over the next 12 months. Don’t believe us? Have a listen to their cheeky cover of Nelly Furtado’s ‘Maneater’ on their MySpace for proof.

“It was actually my idea to cover ‘Maneater’” laughs Jill. “I felt that the track suited the bravado and sex appeal I wanted as a female vocalist in a mainly male dominated genre of music.”

HEAR THEM: www.myspace.com/nomeancityband

SEE THEM: The Pavilion, Belfast (February 27)

Two Door Cinema Club

Already bigged up by the likes of Kanye West and the Beeb, 2010 looks like it’s set for the taking for Bangor’s electro lovers Two Door Cinema Club. The trio are currently poised to unleash their debut record (released via Kitsune) Tourist History in March and after a quick listen Hot Press can confirm that it’ll be one of the Irish releases of the year.

“I have to admit, we’re a little bit nervous at the moment,” confesses Kev Baird. “When you give up pretty much everything else in your life to be in a band, your first album is quite a big deal. We’re super excited as well though. We’re more excited than nervous I think. We can’t wait for everyone to hear it.

“We know that there are a lot of expectations surrounding the album but we’re trying to not let it affect us too much. We’ve had our game plan for the next wee while sussed before any of that happened, so it won’t change what we’re going to do. That Kanye thing blew us away though. Especially when we found out it was Daft Punk who told him about us! At the end of the day though, we’re just really happy that people are appreciating what we’re doing and we’re looking forward to the summer even though we don’t think we’ll see our families and girlfriends for quite a while….”

HEAR THEM: www.myspace.com/twodoorcinemaclub

SEE THEM: The Limelight, Belfast (Feb 22), Dolan’s, Limerick (March 2), Roisin Dubh, Galway (March 4), Stiff Kitten, Belfast (March 5), the Button Factory, Dublin (March 6), Sandino’s, Derry (March 7).

Rams’ Pocket Radio

Rams’ Pocket Radio are another brand spanking new band on our list, but when you watch the experimental outfit (which is centred around lynchpin Peter McCauley) you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been on the live circuit for years.

 “Rams’ Pocket Radio started after my first band [Ego] split.” says Peter. “During that period I was playing drums in Mojo Fury but I had a lot of creative energy that I wasn’t using so I started a collaborative project with a friend. We tracked some stuff in his studio but after a few recordings we realised that we weren’t collaborating, we were just sessioning on each others’ music. I had fully formed ideas in my head and I wanted to see what would happen if I captured that on record without going through a collaborative, translation process.

“It was a big leap and it took a good while to build up the courage to do it,” continues the musician. “Most of the experience I had musically up to this point was either playing drums for a band or sessioning for someone else. After some recordings, I drafted in some experienced musicians to play the stuff live. At the time it felt like a risky move as I hadn’t fronted a band before, but after winning the Music Quest battle of the bands a few months ago I felt convinced that we were on the right track.”

HEAR THEM: www.myspace.com/ramspocketradio

SEE THEM: Rams’ Pocket Radio don’t have any shows booked at the time of going to press.

 

Clown Parlour

While Lisburn’s Clown Parlour (a band who showcase Mojo Fury frontman Michael Mormecha’s more avant garde ideas) may have been a studio project for the last eight years, it was only a matter of months ago that he decided to take the genre straddling side project on the road and this writer for one is glad that he did.

 “The live band only came together in early ‘09 so that I could tour the EP I released,” smiles Michael. “I was lucky enough to have friends and great players around me to pull off what was on the recordings.”

Employing a range of theatrical elements, the Clown Parlour live show is pure, undiluted fun and with a debut album currently in the works, it shouldn’t be too long before they play in your town.

“I feel real particular about how Clown Parlour is presented live, because it’s almost like a self portrait to me and I’m excited about what’s coming up in 2010. The album is nearly finished and that will be followed by a release tour. We’re also launching the official website and online shop soon too (as well as shooting a few videos in the new year) so that is definitely enough stuff to keep me outta mischief I reckon.”

HEAR THEM: www.myspace.com/clownparlour

SEE THEM: The Speakeasy, Belfast (January 30).





Hot Summer, What A Bummer Part 3

16 11 2009

The final festival I was at this summer was the much talked about Glasgowbury in County Derry. According to the ramblings of some internet user names, this bash is the best thing to happen since Fonzie stuck his boot up the jukebox in Arnolds’ hole and while I appreciate the spirit of the event, I wasn’t quite as spell bound as others.

Still, a fun day was had and here’s the reprint of my review that ran in Hot Press.

Glasgowbury

Eagles Rock, Co. Derry

Nestled in between some mountains, Glasgowbury might be a bit scarce on bogs and burger vans, but it more than makes up for the lack of facilities with the amount of talent on offer. Featuring a veritable truck-load of NI acts plus one Free State interloper the Mighty Stef (more on them later) the festival is more of a statement than anything else-telling the major labels and mainstream bands to get screwed, in the nicest possible way of course. With literally dozens of performers filling up four tents, it’s impossible to see everyone, so here’s a brief taster of the cream of the crop.

New kids on the block We Are Resistance put in an encouraging performance during the afternoon as did Furlo, who packed their tent out, but things really kicked off once the Black Bear Saloon arrive onstage a little bit later on. Despite a shaky start (and by “shaky” we don’t mean they played a cover of ‘Green Door’) the four-piece find their groove three songs in with the phenomenal ‘Face The Future.’ Frontman Aaron is clearly relishing the chance to perform outside of Belfast for a change, promising free blowjobs for all and bigging up guitarist Peter’s, er, unique skills. By the end of their hook-laden, groove-fuelled set the tent fills up just in time for the singer to successfully encourage everyone to push themselves against the barrier so he can “have a Joe Dolan moment and touch everyone’s hands” during ‘First Against the Wall.’ Classic stuff.  Hopefully this show will mark the rise in the ranks of the Black Bear Saloon, as frankly they’re getting far too good to be ignored for much longer.

Dutch Schultz put on a tight as hell performance too with Willy clearly in his element, shaking a bottle of Buckfast at the crowd, bemoaning the fact that they don’t make good porn anymore and generally blowing the heads off the front row with ‘LA Cumfucker.’ Sadly the usually impressive Mojo Fury don’t quite click today though. We’re not sure whether it’s the newer material or their lack of life onstage that’s hampering the set, but by the time we see frontman Mike in his other incarnation as singer of the weird and wonderful Clown Parlour, he seems much more at home playing odd, vaudeville-inspired songs than with his day job so maybe he just needs a break.

The Beat Poets on the other hand just seem to get better with every show. New song ‘One By One’ gives us an excellent teaser for the long awaited new album, ‘Ghosts’ has a nasty bassline and a filthy chorus and final song ‘Bloodline’ is now a bona fide fist in the air anthem. The great acts just keep coming too, with The Mighty Stef’s brand of booze-inspired shanties making a believer out of this writer, Here Comes the Landed Gentry charming everyone with their mash-up of blues and rockabilly and sounding like Satan’s house band (they even play an encore) and LaFaro bludgeon the crowd with their utter sonic violence.

 Local indie pin-ups General Fiasco also put on a hell of a show with the normally soft-spoken Owen maturing into the consummate frontman. There are definitely a few songs you could describe as filler in their set (‘First Impressions’) but the sheer pop suss of ‘Rebel Get By’ and ‘Ever So Shy’ mark the boys out to be next year’s potential headliners. Finally it’s left up to And So I Watch You From Afar to close things in style. Their take on instrumental punk rock has made them one of the most exciting Irish bands on the scene right now and ‘Clench Fists, Grit Teeth, Go!’ and ‘Set Guitars To Kill’ are fast becoming as essential as oxygen. In a perfect world ‘A Little Solidarity Goes A Long Way’ would be the NI national anthem, but for now, we’ll settle for it being the unofficial soundtrack to Glasgowbury ’09. See you all next year.

Edwin McFee