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.


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 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 for more details. The closing date for submissions is July 26. You have been warned…

News From The North Christmas Special 2011

21 12 2011

Here’s a reprint of the festive edition of my fornightly Hot Press column. Readers may be interested to know that despite writing it in November, I managed to make it as Christmassy as possible.Yes, I am THAT good.


Words: Edwin McFee

By the time this latest missive from the North reaches you, no doubt you’ll all be getting ready to whip out your chestnuts in order to give them a ruddy good roasting on an open fire, so this issue I’ve taken a leaf out of Cliff Richard’s book, donned an over-sized reindeer themed woolly jumper and dug out some stories of NI acts who are getting into the festive spirit.

First up, rising Derry-based alt rockers Intermission are hosting a Christmas party in Mason’s  in their hometown on Dec 2 alongside Play On The Day North winners Mojo GoGo. The promising three-piece are also launching their debut EP ‘Escaping Dharma’ on the night and you can get a sneak peak of the slab of wax here: Produced, mixed, mastered and designed by multi-talented frontman Glenn Rosborough (who you may recall used to be a member of the well thought of Kharma 45) the record should help establish the boys as one of the North’s bigger players next year and we’re expecting great things from them in 2012.

Next up, the legend that is Mr Ralph McLean is broadcasting a special Christmas show on Radio Ulster on Dec 14 between 8pm-10pm and he will be joined by some ace local acts (which include Gareth Dunlop, Isobel Anderson, Matt McGinn, Paul Casey and Ruby Colley) who will perform some of their own songs as well as some festive favourites. Taking place on location at the Bronte Music Club in the Bronte Homeland in Rathfriland, Co. Down, the programme promises to turn even the most Grinch-like listener into a real-life Buddy the Elf, so make sure you tune in.

Sludge-loving noise rockers Comply or Die indulge their inner Kris Kringle for a show on Dec 15 at the Menagerie, Belfast and they’re promising a performance that will make Shakin’ (‘Merry Christmas Everyone’) Stevens’ legendary love of the Yuletide season pale in comparison. Backed by Larne’s the Burnt Reynolds, admission is £4 and rumours of free entry for anyone dressed in a Santa Claus suit could not be confirmed at the time of going to press…

Finally, one of NI’s brightest hopes Rams’ Pocket Radio rounds off a fantastic year by playing a gig at the Stiff Kitten, Belfast on Dec 23. Currently touring in support of the sublime ‘Dogs Run In Packs’ EP, Peter McCauley and Co. aim to cap off a great 2011 in style and the gig is a must-see for anyone who loves left of centre alt-pop. Miss it at your peril.

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.


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-

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 and here 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 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 for more info.

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.”


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….”


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.”


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.”


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

Don’t Judge The Judge

1 01 2010

Tomorrow night I’m one of the judges at a battle of the bands competition in the Square Peg in Warrenpoint. The prizes on offer are amazing, there are some great acts involved and if you’re coming down make sure to come up and say hello.