News From The North 75

4 04 2011

As some folk may already know, for the last three years I’ve written a column in Hot Press devoted to covering bands from Northern Ireland. Here’s one of the more recent missives…

News

Words: Edwin McFee

It’s “new release” fortnight up here in the north at the moment and it seems as if everyone has something to flog. So, without further ado, let’s get to it. First up, Belfast’s decidedly modish four-piece the Vals are preparing to unveil a brand new double A-side single (‘Look To The One/Emily O’). Featuring the inimitable Mr Henry McCullough (formerly of Wings) the slab of wax is penciled in for an early May date, so get saving your pennies now. The band will no doubt be off on another European festival jaunt this summer and we’ll of course keep you posted.

Next up, if, like this writer, you enjoy a bit of action in the squared circle (I swear that isn’t half as dirty as it looks on paper) then you’ll want to check out the new video for the Bonnevilles’ latest salvo of sleazy blues punk ‘Good Suits And Fightin’ Boots,’ which features some Mexican style Lucha Libre wrestling. Made by the hugely imaginative filmmaker Sean Duncan (AKA Red Cap Productions http://www.redcap-productions.com) the clip and single are available on April 7. The band also play a launch gig that night in the Menagerie, Belfast and well worth checking out it is too.

A Plastic Rose (another of Mr Duncan’s previous conquests spookily enough) are planning to still go ahead will the launch gig for their latest mini album The Promise Notes on March 31 despite being stuck down with an illness that forced them to cut short their recent UK tour. Featuring a sterling line-up consisting of Axis Of and Colenso Parade, the action kicks off in the Limelight, Belfast and fingers crossed they’ll have kicked whatever ails them by then. In the meantime, you can catch Red Cap Productions video for ‘Oceans’ via this very link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ejjw97A5cio.

Recent signings to the near mythic rock label Metal Blade Records, Darkest Era release their new album The Last Caress Of Light on March 26 and play a launch gig in the Limelight, Belfast that evening. Kicking off at 5pm, it’s £5 in and also on the bill are Sirocco and Sorrowfall. Darkest Era’s sound is a sabre-rattling blend of Lizzy and Maiden and the few tracks we’ve heard from their debut are pulse-racing power metal anthems, so expect big things. For more on the Enniskillen/Belfast mob, check out  www.darkestera.com.

Finally, we’d like to offer a quick congratulations to Two Door Cinema Club who scooped the Choice Music Prize. As regular readers of the column will know, I’ve championed them for years, so I’m especially pleased to see them get the recognition they deserve. From little acorns…

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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.





News From The North Week 48

2 03 2010

Want some NI band news? You got it punker.

News

Words: Edwin McFee

We’d like to kick this fortnight’s news column off with a huge metaphorical pat on the back to Aaron (Black Bear Saloon) Abernethy, Anto (Tin Pot Operation) O’Kane and John (Bruised Fruit) Lawson for their massively successful Belfast 4 Haiti events, which saw NI’s music scene invoke the spirit of their inner Bob Geldof and raise a lot of money for charity. So far the group have made (at the time of going to press) £21500 from the 50 band mega-gig, £9500 from the dance event in the Stiff Kitten and £7500 from a fun run (if anyone can tell this writer what exactly is fun about running then send your answers in c/o Hot Press) and there’s more to come in. Filmmaker Sean Duncan (AKA Redcap Productions) has also made an ace short video of the gig in the Limelight/Spring and Airbrake/Katy Daly’s and it can be viewed by clicking on the link www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4UgonWfTdY and should help all those who were slightly sozzled to retrace their steps…

The Belfast 4 Haiti train doesn’t just stop there though and as well as plenty of other splinter events in the works, some photographers have clubbed together to exhibit/flog their wares online for charity. Featuring an extensive selection of shots taken at the 50band gig, you can view them here www.photoboxgallery.com/belfast4haiti and buy prints to hang on your wall/cave with all proceeds going to the relief effort. I think we’re all agreed that everyone involved in the Belfast 4 Haiti project deserves at least ten fist bumps each for their efforts, so well done.

 In a few weeks time (March 4 to be precise) John Shelly and the Creatures unveil their debut album Dinosaur to the world and play a gig in Auntie Annie’s in Belfast to celebrate. Fresh from bothering Coronation Street viewers’ ear-holes with their ace single ‘Long May You Reign’( by way of the Discover Northern Ireland advert) the band have been making all the right moves at the moment and even tread those hallowed boards of the Late Late Show recently (you can watch their performance via the RTE Player if you missed it) so expect more news from the band over the issues to come.

 Finally congrats to the Vals, who have bagged the support slot for Ocean Colour Scene’s gig in the Mandela Hall, Belfast on March 7. They also play a European club tour in April-taking in Switzerland, Germany and Austria and it will be in support of their new single ‘Things Will Always Be The Same.’ Stay tuned for more Vals news as we get it.





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.





News From The North Week 40

23 09 2009

As promised in a previous blog, here’s the NI news column from the previous issue of Hot Press, Vol 33 Issue 17

 

News from the North

Words:  Edwin McFee

This October sees the return of the Hard Working Class Heroes festival in Dublin and featuring in the line up once again are a whole host of NI’s finest. Taking place from Oct 16-18 in Temple Bar, the acts that are keeping the Northern end up are A Plastic Rose (who are seemingly everywhere these days), Cutaways, Escape Act, Here Comes the Landed Gentry (who are sure to be the highlight of the whole weekend), Kowalski, Not Squares, Pocket Promise, the Vals and Yes Cadets. Despite some noticeable exceptions, it’s a pretty great bill and we’ll be filling you in on more details over the coming weeks. For now keep checking www.hwch.net for more info.

The mighty fine Oppenheimer are busy in the studio at the moment, working on album number three and they’ve come up with a rather unusual request via their website (www.oppenheimer.co.uk in case you didn’t know). The duo (who sometimes aren’t a duo, but never mind all that) want you, Joe Public, to help write two of their new songs, as Rocky from the band explains: “There will be two songs on the next album that we will write about anything you want. Anything at all.  If you want us to write a song about the time your friend fell asleep in a taxi cab on the way to watch a boxing match, and then you slapped them in the face so many times they lost feeling in their cheek for month, we’ll do it! If you want us to write a song about the tall ships visiting Belfast once every nineteen years, we’ll do it! We’ll give you a shout out on the album, a free album, free Oppenheimer gig entries and other goodies as and when we make them.” So there you have it. Personally we’re hoping they write about a handsome young Hot Press columnist from Newry and if you’d like to hear that too, then email rocky@oppenheimermusic.co.uk pronto.

Finally this fortnight, the Thrones of Roll are releasing a new EP called ‘Video Store’ by putting on a gig on Oct 23 at the Black Box in Belfast. The chaps have also made a video for the title track and it was directed by Sean Duncan and you can have a butcher’s by clicking on the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vTI5aJ3hoQ. It features the band dressed up as iconic film characters and it’s well worth a click or two.