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 102

31 05 2012

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

News

Words: Edwin McFee

A few months ago, you may recall we informed you about a new initiative called Untapped that was master-minded by the head honchos behind the upcoming Tennent’s Vital festival which aimed to promote the local music scene by offering four lucky acts the chance to open the main stage at this year’s shin-dig in Belfast. Well, this fortnight, the organisers have revealed the names of the final 16 turns who will be fighting it out for a much coveted slot alongside the likes of the Stone Roses, the Foo Fighters and more on August 21-22 and they’ve also confirmed that they will perform at four showcase gigs in both NI’s capital and Derry in May.

 

Kicking off in the Limelight, Belfast on May 16, Master and Dog, Gerard i2, Havana House Party and Jepettos all duke it out for a spot on the bill, then the following night in the same venue Trucker Diablo, City of Stars, Peter McVeigh and Futurescope all lay the (sonic) smack down. After that, the Tennent’s Untapped competition takes itself off to the Bound for Boston in Derry on May 23 and features Best Boy Grip, A Northern Light, Rachel Austin and Mojo Gogo battling it out, while the next night features Droids, Morning Claws, Pretty Child Backfire and Two Glass Eyes. I think you’ll all agree that the final 16 are a pleasingly diverse mix of acts from different genres and sub cultures and I’d like to wish everyone the best of luck.

 

Next up, keeping proceedings on a festival tip, the brand spanking new Link Fest in Derry have just revealed details of their line-up and the bill is as solid as the Incredible Hulk’s armchair if we do say so ourselves. Taking place on July 13-14 and at multiple venues (which include Mason’s, the Playhouse, the Castle, Bound for Boston and Gweedor) some of the acts include Our Krypton Son, By Any Means, Furlo, Wyldling, Triggerman and Making Monsters and for more details check out facebook.com/linkfest.

 

Finally this fortnight, I’ve just enough room to remind you all about ska punk deities Pocket Billiards tenth anniversary gig at the Mandela Hall, Belfast on May 12. Doubling as a release party for their second album Last Chance To Dance the show is set to be a doozy (yes, doozy) and Axis Of, Bomb City 7 and Chewing on Tinfoil are the support acts. The band have also uploaded new track ‘So Many People, So Little Time’ onto pocketbilliards.bandcamp.com and it sounds awesome, so check it out.





News From The North Week 92

8 12 2011

Fancy some NI music scene news?Course you do!Here’s a reprint of one of my recent columns from Hot Press.

Remember folks, the feature runs every fortnight,so if you’ve any news for me get in touch.

 News

Words: Edwin McFee

First up this fortnight I bring you news of an interesting experiment that’s currently being carried out by Belfast-based indie folksy types Farriers. At the moment, they’ve just completed work on their debut album Years Ago In Our Backyard and have decided to get involved with the Pledge scheme (which you may remember the likes of Duke Special took part in relatively recently) to generate enough money to get the slab of wax mastered and manufactured. So, what exactly is the Pledge scheme I hear you cry. Well, basically fans can send over money to the band in return for bespoke, one-off rewards and Farriers are offering the likes of private dinner parties with the group (for £80), a personal song written just for you (£100), a gig at your house party (£200) and more and you can check out the full list here- sponsume.com/project/farriers-debut-album.

Next up, the insanely talented Shauna Tohill (AKA Silhouette) has been making waves round old London Town recently. The singer and her band were given the opportunity to support Snow Patrol a few weeks ago at the Q Awards show in the HMV Forum and, lovely lads that they are, they also invited her to join them onstage to perform backing vocals for ‘Set Fire To The Third Bar’ and ‘The Garden Rules’ (which you can view here youtube.com/watch?v=890r6VCWnlw&feature=youtu.be and here youtube.com/watch?v=cSe7p1Wd1TE&feature=player_embedded). Regular readers of this column may recall that I’ve long been championing Silhouette (who have just released their new single ‘What Are These Voices’ via all major downloading platforms by the way) and I’m predicting that 2012 is going to be a massive year for Ms Tohill and her cohorts. In the meantime though, visit facebook.com/silhouetteofficial for more information and up to date info on where they’re playing next.

The good news keeps on coming this fortnight as it’s just been revealed that Rams Pocket Radio and Cashier No. 9 have been chosen to perform at the Eurosonic festival in the Netherlands in 2012. Now in its 26th year, the bash is one of the biggest industry showcases in the world and runs from Jan 11-14 and has featured the likes of And So I Watch You From Afar in the past and this writer for one is certain that both acts will go on to even bigger and better things after they play at this hugely influential event.

Finally, I’ve just enough room to let you all know that ska punk deities Pocket Billiards are on the hunt for a new drummer. If you’re interested in joining one of the north’s best live acts visit pocketbilliards.co.uk for more info.





News From The North Week 52

26 04 2010

Here’s the NI band news from the previous issue of Hot Press. Enjoy.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

By the time you read this, the Beat Poets will be just back from South by Southwest and are currently gearing up to release their superb new single ‘One By One’ on April 19 via all major download sites. Last month we had a sneaky listen to the track and it’s definitely one of the boys’ best, making us even more eager to get a hold of their debut record once they put the finishing touches to it. The band have just confirmed dates at the Square Peg, Warrenpoint (April 17) and the Spring and Airbrake, Belfast (April 23) and are also playing alongside the Saw Doctors and General Fiasco at the Lark in the Park, Moira (May 1) too. For more Beat Poets action check out www.thebeatpoets.com.

Remember last fortnight we were moaning about not receiving a copy of the LaFaro album? Well, while we’re still sans their debut slab of wax, we can reveal that they’ve announced more tour dates, which is great news if you didn’t manage to snag a ticket for their launch on April 26 in the Menagerie in Belfast. The new dates are April 27 at the Menagerie and May 16 at the INF in Warrenpoint and we’re sure there’s more to follow in the coming weeks.

 Good 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’s should be a great day out. Tickets cost £20 and are available from the official website www.pigstockfestival.co.uk.





Pocket Billiards Interview

4 12 2009

I interviewed the mighty Pocket Billiards for AU magazine a few issues ago, so here’s reprint.

Pocket Billiards

 

Members: Savage (guitar, vocals), Chuck (guitar, vocals), Steve (keys), Anto (bass), Jim (drums), Joe Monk (trumpet), Elaine (alto sax), Slow (tenor sax).

Formation: Belfast 2002

For Fans Of: The Slackers, Voodoo Glow Skulls, the Clash

Check Out: Debut album Pocket Billiards is out now.

Website: www.pocketbilliards.co.uk

Ever since their inception at the start of the decade, it was clear that Belfast based ska punks Pocket Billiards were something special. Even during those early days when their line-up had more changes that the Sugababes you could always guarantee that a Billiards show would be a fun night out and over the last seven years they’ve matured into one of the country’s best acts. This month they capitalize on all that talent by releasing their self-titled debut album and it was a labour of love for the nine-piece. Recorded by Oppenheimer’s Rocky O’Reilly at Start Together Studios, the slab of wax took three weeks to record and for frontman Chris Savage it was a huge relief to finally get a record out there on the shelves.

“It was brilliant finally getting a recording that really gets across the energy and sound of the band,” he says. “We previously had only recorded a demo way back at the start and then produced an EP in a bedroom (that sadly didn’t sound so good) and I think we proved to ourselves that we could make a good record. Rocky was great to work with and was as willing to experiment with different effects as I was and it allowed us to capture the sound that we had always wanted.”

With morale at an all time high, Savage and Co. decided to finally take the plunge after meeting Rocky at this year’s And So I Watch You From Afar Mandela Hall show and after listening to the high octane release, we’re glad they did.

“I just thought the time was right to make this album. We took a bit of a break over the last few years as a number of band members, including myself, became parents and after the Billiard’s baby boom, we felt that we wanted to get back to playing shows and having fun.  We picked up some good support slots, had written a load of songs and finally had a stable line-up, so we felt it was time to get the music recorded.

“The actual recording all seems a bit of a blur to me now,” he continues.  “As we were pressed for time we worked pretty hard for most of it. I remember the rest of the guys laughing at me because at times I was really losing my temper and getting a bit of a huff on.  I’m surprised they could put up with me! While listening to a playback after one of the recording sessions Anto [bass] declared that we needed ‘eagle ears.’ Now I don’t know much about birds, but I’m pretty sure that the eagle is not particularly well known for its immense auditory sensory system (I can only imagine Bill Odie would shake his head in disbelief at that statement).”

One of the best aspects of the record is the fact that they write about where we live. Tracks like ‘SPIDE’ and Belfast Town’ are not only kickass ska songs, we can relate to them too.

“I can’t stand it when artists sing in the generic ‘American’ accents or write lyrics about things they are totally detached from, just because it may be deemed cool,” he offers. “I try to write about things I have experienced or witnessed and feel strongly about, such as my daughter being born two months premature, the nonsense of musical cliques, or watching your mate become a drunken fool on a night out. At the same time I feel it’s important for me not to take myself too seriously and a bit of humour is certainly something that goes hand in hand with Pocket Billiards. I suppose that’s where songs like ‘SPIDE’ come from and the instrumental track ‘Don’t Scratch My Soca’ is a tribute to one of my all time favourite comedy shows Desmond’s. For me lyrics don’t have to be sublime pieces of poetry, if they are honest and sang with feeling then it’s more natural.

“To be totally honest I have no idea what people’s reactions to the album will be,” he concludes.  “The record is loud, energetic and catchy as hell and one thing I know is that this isn’t just for ska lovers. The album is packed full of heavy riffs, powerful brass lines and sing-a-long choruses. I just hope that people give it a shot and enjoy it.” Edwin McFee  





News From The North Week 42

21 10 2009

Here’s a reprint of my NI news column from Hot Press Vol 33 Issue 19. Enjoy.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

They may have taken their sweet time making it, but this fortnight we’re pleased to announce that one of NI’s best live bands Pocket Billiards will unleash their debut album onto the unsuspecting public. Formed in 2002, the Billiards have went through more line-up changes than Guns ‘N’ Roses, but they’ve still remained one of the most high octane unsigned bands the country has to offer and this writer is pleased to report that their self titled album is one of the best records of the year. The ska-loving nine-piece launch their master-piece by playing a gig in the Black Box in Belfast on Oct 10 with support from Team Fresh, Axis Of and Aggressors BC and admission is a mere £5, so make sure you check out what is sure to be a great night. For more information on how you can pick up a copy of their seminal slab of wax then click on www.myspace.com/pocketbilliards.

Speaking of new albums, by the time you read this you’ll be able to get your mitts on the debut offering (Sticks And Stones) from the Vals too. Released on Oct 5, the opus can be bought via mail order giants such as Play.com, Amazon and all the rest and while we have yet to hear a copy, we’re expecting good things. The band have also made a rather swish looking video for their track ‘Too Many People’ and you can watch it here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cPNEeprzxBU.

Up and comers the Vires are the latest local act to sign with the Audio-Ill label. After beating off stiff competition (make your own jokes there folks, that one’s too easy) in a Battle of the Bands, they scooped a two year contract and three year publishing deal. Hot Press will of course keep you up to date on the band’s activities when we get them but for now have a listen to their songs by visiting this website-www.myspace.com/thevires.

Finally the none more mighty Yakuza have made an ace clip for their track ‘West Of The Best’ courtesy of Red Cap Productions. Taken from their forthcoming album, the video features our heroes playing inside cardboard boxes that are adorned in fairy lights, signing along the dotted line for some be-suited business moguls (the horror!) and generally indulging in some of the best acting we’ve seen since Leprechaun In The Hood went straight to DVD. It’s definitely worth a look, so check it out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhqEeQn7j0c&feature=player_embedded.





Pocket Billiards Album Launch

16 09 2009

One of my favourite Irish bands, the ska punk deities that are Pocket Billiards are launching their debut album on Oct 10 and I definitely reccommend you to check it out. A few weeks ago their band’s singer Savage featured in my Guilty Pleasures column, so I thought I’d repost it here to add to his shame.

GUILTY PLEASURES

Everyone’s got at least one skeleton in their closet and musicians are no different. Each month at the Big List we aim to find out just what they are and expose them to the nation. This month Pocket Billiards singer/guitarist Chris Savage confesses a crush on the musical stylings of the legend that is….Mr Blobby.

“I usually find that the real reason why guilty pleasures stay under wraps is down to embarrassment, so when I was asked to divulge my guilty pleasure I approached with trepidation. After all, I didn’t really want to embarrass myself, now did I? “So, which one?” I pondered.  Would it be crying every time I hear the iconic words uttered by Derice Bannock following the now famous Jamaican bobsled crash: “Sanka… you dead?” “Ya mon?”  Or would it be admitting to finding Susie Dent from dictionary corner somewhat attractive?  Nope!  Possibly cheese and onion crisp sandwiches in bed after a night out?  Nah, sure everyone does that! 

I realised I was too shameless to worry about any of those. Then it hit me. There was one thing!  One thing that was so cringe-worthy yet brilliant, that it was worthy of public airing.  I was rifling through my not so extensive vinyl collection and there it was.  The hidden gem nestling in between Barnbrack’s classic ‘Mickey Marley’s Roundabout’ and The Simpson’s ‘Do the Bartman.’ Mr Blobby’s Christmas single.   

On Dec 11th 1993 one portly diva with an obscure name stole the top spot from another well rounded operatic rocker known to many as Meat Loaf.  “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that” he sang.  “Well I will” declared the pink and yellow pie-eyed Crinklybottom-dwelling hooligan, effortlessly sailing to number one.  Yes, one of the most groundbreaking singles of all time and I own it in pristine condition, lovingly kept for all those years. So there it is, finally the weight has been lifted from my shoulders. I shall sing loud and sing proud, “Blobby, Oh Mr Blobby…”  If collecting terribly woeful music on the sly is a crime, then I am guilty as charged. All this just makes me glad that I did not find my collection of New Kids on the Block tapes prior to writing of this article.”  

 

Pocket Billiards play the Big Gig 5 on Aug 29. They also launch their album on Oct 10 at the Black Box with support from Team Fresh, Axis Of and Aggressors BC. Admission is £5 and tickets are available from www.blackboxbelfast.com.