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.

News

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 youtube.com/watch?v=wvDucrtUaas. 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 unquietnights.com. 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 cedrichasaname.bandcamp.com.

 

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 morningclaws.com 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.





Glasgowbury Review (Hot Press)

4 09 2012

Here’s a reprint of my review of this year’s Glasgowbury that ran in Hot Press last month.Pic stolen from Ramsey Cardy (www.shoottothrill.co.uk)

GLASGOWBURY

Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry

Featuring a rather fetching stripy circus tent serving as the new home for the G Sessions stage, an additional dance-oriented area sponsored by Red Bull and, most importantly, the strongest line-up they’ve had in their 12 year history, the self-proclaimed “small but massive” shin-dig that is Glasgowbury is rapidly maturing into something of a monster. With shed-loads of Irish acts on the bill, 2012’s festival has something for everyone and business really picks up with the arrival of the all-conquering punk-infused rock ‘n’ roll group Empty Lungs. Now a four-piece thanks to the recent arrival of guitarist Sam (“The fucker looks like Ryan Gosling and has a massive cock” offers singer Kev Jones by way of introduction) the boys are in world beating form and belt out the likes of ‘Identity Lost’ and ‘Nothing Left To Lose’ with a belief and passion that marks them out as one of the best unsigned acts on the island right now.

 

Donegal’s Mojo Gogo are another outfit who are on the cusp of greatness and their utterly infectious indie songs go down a treat on the main stage. Boasting a live sound that’s as solid as Godzilla’s sofa, the quartet impress thanks to numbers such as the stunning ‘Romance In The Lie’ and we’re sure this time next year they’re be much further up the bill. While the rather languid in comparison Master and Dog struggle a little following the Mojos and Katie And The Carnival’s performance suffers thanks to the elements, NI’s greatest party band Pocket Billiards arrive onstage to perk up us and they blast out some absolutely righteous sounding ska-punk, with ‘Dirty Money’ and ‘Belfast Town’ in particular sounding anthemic in the open air.

 

After a brief break checking out the hugely popular, Red Bull sponsored Generator Stage which saw DJs such as Viasidus and Casion spin tracks alongside local radio talent, we pop over to the Eagle’s Rock stage to check out the rootsy sounds of Farriers and their country/bluegrass-tinged songs are a perfect, chilled out precursor to the madness to come. By “madness,” we of course mean those riff lords LaFaro and their turn in the G Sessions tent is a master-class in sonic thuggery. In fact, there are more than a few punters who’ll definitely need a neck brace the next day after being pummeled by the punk metal sounds of ‘Easy Meat’ and ‘Full Tilt.’ Expect them to headline Glasgowbury sooner rather than later.

 

Speaking of headliners, NI legends Therapy? are left to bring the day to a close and they do it in style. Opening with the awesome one-two punch of ‘Rust’ and ‘If It Kills Me,’ the trio (which includes stand-in drummer Alan from LaFaro) are clad in suits and prowling the stage like street-walking cheetahs looking just as up for it as the crowd. It’s great to hear the likes of ‘Nausea’ being dusted off for a live airing and newies such as ‘Living In The Shadow Of A Terrible Thing’ sit happily beside the now classic noise-rock cuts ‘Meat Abstract’ and more. In short-for 70minutes the band brought the thunder and gave us the best Glasgowbury performance we’ve ever seen. File under “H” for Heroic.

EDWIN McFEE 





News From The North Week 107

9 08 2012

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

News

Words: Edwin McFee

In just a few days time, the lion’s share of regular readers of this column will no doubt be preparing to straddle the Sperrin Mountains in Co. Derry and break themselves off a piece of metaphorical rock ‘n’ roll action at the Glasgowbury festival. Featuring a bill consisting of some of this island’s brightest and best acts, the bash will be headlined by Therapy? and just recently the Larne/Ballyclare-born boys revealed that they will be debuting a slightly altered line-up for the July 21 event. Yes readers, standing in (temporarily, mind) for long-term tub thumper Neil Cooper is Alan Lynn, who you may remember beats the shit out of things for those riff-laden berserkers LaFaro.

 

A few days ago I caught up with bassist Michael McKeegan and he explained the situation:

 

“I suppose the biggest bit of news is that Alan from LaFaro will be drumming with us!” offered the Evil Priest. “Neil’s had to sit out a few shows due to a longstanding family commitment so (with Neil’s help and LaFaro’s blessing) we head-hunted the best young drummer around to fill in. We’ve been rehearsing and it sounds fantastic, he definitely will be doing the songs justice. Aim to maim…that’s the plan.”

 

So there you have it folks. If you’re making the trip to Draperstown you’ll be witnessing a wee bit of history and if you’re not going, well…consider me very disappointed in your actions. For more info visit glasgowbury.com. See you down the front.

 

Next up, sticking with open air-based events, I’m particularly pleased to tell you that there has been a raft of NI additions (well, seven…) to the line-up for Electric Picnic. Leading the charge are festival stalwarts Rams’ Pocket Radio, Fighting with Wire, LaFaro, Mojo Fury, Axis Of and Master & Dog and rounding off the list are the utterly incendiary rap/punk hooligans Bomb City 7, who will no doubt steal the show at the shin-dig. The quintet of turns will play the Oxjam Wigwam and personally I think it’s only a matter of time before BC7 members Brendy and Kev play similar stages with their other projects Bee Mick See and Empty Lungs too.

 

Finally, I’ve just enough room to let you know the organisers of the annual Hard Working Class Heroes are on the lookout for acts to play at this year’s event (which takes place on Oct 4-6 across six different venues in Dublin). If you want to take part all you have to do is visit hwch.net for more details. The closing date for submissions is July 26. You have been warned…





News From The North 103

12 06 2012

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

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Over the last few months music lovers in the north have been treated to a veritable treasure trove of ear-gasm inducing line-up announcements from various festivals dotted all around the six counties. With Pigstock, Stendhal and more really stepping up and putting together some great bills, many people were left wondering what the grand-daddy of them all that is Glasgowbury would had in store this year. Well, ponder no more loyal readers, as Paddy Glasgow and his team have proved once again that they’ve got more surprises up their sleeve than Paul Daniels and this year’s bash is looking like it’ll be the best yet.

Taking place in Eagle’s Rock, Co. Derry on July 21, the headliners will be none other than NI national treasures Therapy? and this writer couldn’t be happier to see one of the north’s most iconic and important bands close proceedings in style. Also on the bill are the Japanese Popstars, LaFaro, Our Krypton Son, the Wonder Villains, Farriers and a veritable shed-load more and you can view the up to date line-up on glasgowbury.com. Tickets for the festival are on sale now via www.hmvtickets.com and are priced at £40 for the Bear Grylls types among you who want to camp and £30 for general admission.

Speaking of Farriers, the well thought of alt country/Americana/roots/Irish trad types are currently gearing up to release their debut album ‘Years Ago In Our Backyard’ on May 27. Elephant minded readers will remember we told you that the band opted to fund the record by offering bespoke packages such as signed albums and one-off performances etc to their fans in return for their moolah (as part of the Pledge scheme) and the tactic paid off in spades as they raised £4445 in total. Featuring ten tracks of sweet and tender tune-age, Farriers officially launch the opus with a gig in the Black Box, Belfast on May 27 with special guests, Gareth Dunlop and Three Blind Wolves. For more information visit farriers.bandcamp.com.

Finally this issue, the always incendiary Bee Mick See is releasing his debut album ‘Tales Of Self Preservation Gone Wrong’ on May 25 and if you’re a fan of super-charged, punk infused hip hop then you should check it out. The rapper launches the album in the Hudson, Belfast on May 25 and gig attendees will receive a code to download the record for free so make sure you head down. The video for his beyond awesome new single ‘Punk Hoplican Dissidents’ can be viewed at youtube.com/watch?v=6x_MDt2QFy4.





News From The North Weeks 61 and 62

7 09 2010

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Belfast-based riff behemoths LaFaro continue to steamroll their way to the top of the NI band food chain this fortnight with the announcement that they’re set to play at this year’s Reading and Leeds festivals. The four-piece will appear at the BBC Introducing stage and perform at Leeds on August 28 and Reading the following day. Also playing on those days are Blink 182 and Weezer, but since both those bands disappeared up their own bum holes years ago you’ve no excuse not to check out Johnny Black and Co. In other LaFaro news, the boys have been chosen to support seminal post hardcore heroes Helmet on their first European tour in yonks. Taking place over the months of November and December, the boys play Belgium, Holland and more and we can’t think of a better support act for Page Hamilton’s crew.

Turning our attentions to festivals at home, the always entertaining Joe Echo (plus full band) are slated to appear at this year’s Electric Picnic. After wowing the crowds at Oxegen, Mr Echo is all set to repeat that success with a performance on September 3, which also just so happens to be the release date of his new single ‘Tilly’s Cowboy’ and mighty fine it is too.

 If the recent gig by Iron Maiden and upcoming Irish dates by Guns ‘N’ Roses have whetted your appetites for destruction (see what we did there?) then check out the brand spanking new rock night called Hanger 18 which launches in the Pavilion bar in Belfast on August 20. Promising a slightly heavier music policy (think Pantera rather than Poison) the night begins at 9.30pm and rumours of a reduced cover charge being offered for anyone turning up in a patch-laden denim and leather outfit aren’t confirmed at the time of going to press (we joke because we care). The organisers are also planning another rock night called Redeemer (which is sponsored by Scuzz TV and Metal Hammer magazine) in the same venue and that kicks off on August 28 too.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

Sludge loving post punks Comply or Die have re-entered the studio this fortnight to begin work on the follow up to their epic self-titled debut album. Early reports indicate the band are experimenting with longer song structures-albeit delivered in their own unique louder than everyone else fashion-and bassist Ian Pearce tells us that some of the new material is being ear-marked for an up-coming split cassette (remember them? No? Just me then…) with the Slomatics. Comply or Die are also gearing up to play a secret gig in a half finished bungalow which boasts an adjoining medieval graveyard in early September too. At the moment the trio are keeping the exact details to themselves, though we do know that it’s near Ballymoney and if you bribe their singer Michael with enough Icarus Line singles, then he’ll sing like a canary.

The mighty Trucker Diablo have just released their new record The Devil Rhythm and you’ll be pushed to hear a better classic rock album all year. Already a hit with their faithful followers, the album can be bought from the band directly at www.myspace.com/truckerdiablo. In other TD news, the boys have featured in a recent Facebook campaign to get them to support Thin Lizzy when they play in Belfast next February. Click on http://www.facebook.com/TruckerDiabloSupportPage if you’d like to see the riff monsters share the stage with Ricky Warwick and Co.

This September, the North Coast’s Under Stars & Gutters aim to beat those back to school blues by re-releasing their whole catalogue for free via American label Death To False Hope Records. While there are no official dates available at the time of going to press, keep checking www.myspace.com/deathtofalsehoperecords for punky goodness.

Speaking of new releases, the Beat Poets have penciled in October 4 for the launch date of their new single ‘Gravity.’ While we haven’t heard the recorded version of the tune yet, we’re sure it’ll repeat the success of their mainstream breakthrough track ‘One By One.’ The Poets’ VM Records labelmates Silhouette are also celebrating the news that their superb single ‘Volume Destroyed’ has just been added to Cool FM’s daytime radio playlist. Shauna Tohill and Co. will be joining the likes of Lady Gaga, Kings of Leon and the Killers on the airwaves and we can’t think of a better act to show the mainstream pop/rock world just how it’s done. For more news on Silhouette and the Beat Poets check out VM Records’ website at www.myspace.com/vexedmusicrecords.





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.





Church Of Noise 4

21 05 2010

Want more Church of Noise? Oh, go on then..

Church of Noise

Local music news

Congratulations to former Big Gig alumni No Mean City who are celebrating the news that they have reached the finals of the Red Bell Bedroom Jam Sessions. Thanks to a tireless internet campaign which involved the Derry four-piece guilt tripping their online mates into voting for them (hey, it worked didn’t it?) they’ve made it into the final 16 and compete for a chance to play at Download, T in the Park and more this summer. However, just because they made the top 16 doesn’t mean you can’t vote again, so check out www.redbullbedroomjam.com to do your bit.

It’s time for good news/bad news for anyone thinking about going to the Pigstock festival in Killinchy. While original headliners LaFaro have sadly had to pull out due to touring commitments, A Plastic Rose have stepped in to close proceedings. Taking place on May 29, the bash also features the likes of Swanee River, Pocket Billiards, Mojo Fury, the Lowly Knights, Gentry Morris and more on the bill and it looks like it should be a great day out. Tickets cost £25 (which includes camping) and are available from the official website www.pigstockfestival.co.uk. As if that wasn’t enough, organisers have assembled a free (yes, that’s free cheap skates) warm up gig at the very fine Daft Eddy’s bar and grill on Sketrick Island, Killinchy on May 8 too. The line-up features Black Mambas, Shades of Jonah and the Glory Holes (do us a favour, NEVER google “the Glory Holes”) and Pigstock head honco’s are selling camping tickets at the knock-down price of £20 for one night only.

 Speaking of LaFaro, remember how last month I was giving off because I hadn’t heard their new record yet? Well, while this month I’m still sans their self-titled slab of wax sadly, I can tell you that they’ve announced a third date to their residency in the Menagerie in Belfast. Costing a mere fiver, the gig takes place on April 28 and tickets are available from www.wegottickets.com so if you were dilly dallying on getting one for the April 26 and 27 shows that sold out, you’d have to be a real numpty to miss out on this one too. Now, where’s this bloody album then?

See y’all next month folks. Up the Irons.

Edwin