EP review ~ the skin we're in ~ #1

by 17:08

EP Review
The Skin We're In

Brainchild of Song-writer Chris "Cricky" Markey, "The Skin We're In", who released their debut EP in 2009, are starting make serious waves across the local music scene. With air time on popular radio stations such as BBC Radio Ulster and U105 already under their belt, as well as a headline slot in their own home town of Newry, it seems the County Down lads are gearing up to do what they've been threatening for years - to burst from the shadows and establish themselves as one of Northern Irelands most exciting prospects. I took a look at their newest eponymous EP  "#1"...
The  EP sparks into life with the attention grabbing "Society" which draws the audience in with a haunting  synth and powerful vocal with a distinctive early  Pet Shop Boy's vibe. The atmospheric nature of this tracks delicate opening is soon complimented by a beautifully melodic and almost hypnotic piano riff, which dances amongst the swirling vocals. A driving guitar dives in around the two minute mark, kicking the tune up a gear and showing another side of the bands unique sound. The track also highlights Markey's sophisticated and yet ambiguous lyrical style, "No matter how I try to please, others flatter to deceive, society is killing me, it's there for everyone to see", which would not look out of place in the song book of a certain Steven Patrick Morrissey.
"Blood Runs Red" immediately shows a different side to the local lads sound, as a staccato piano riff sets a bouncier and uplifting tone. As the song builds the content becomes clear, with the songs excellent structure allowing an indie guitar riff to be accompanied by a striking orchestral piece. It sounds like it shouldn't work, yet it really does. Markey's natural wit and intelligent lyrics pulls no punches, "This love is dead to me, you're nothing but a distant memory..." the songs triumphant mood and yet bitter content make a fascinating contrast, ending on a positive note, "You won't get away with what you've done to hurt me".
Track number three, "Asunder",  once again show yet another dimension to this versatile record. Again, a melodic piano remains prominent, but this time it's the powerful vocal which takes center stage as intricate harmonies provide a clever twist to what is essentially an electronic tune.
The EP ends with what may be the highlight, the delicate and yet rhythmic sounds of "Factions". A beautifully composed ballad, with an almost Depeche Mode feeling, this track sounds like it would fit perfectly in a film trailer.  "Factions" builds to an epic climax, again utilizing a well conducted string section as well as a synthy riff. It is an excellent and appropriate end to the EP,as it doesn't have an abrupt ending of sorts, instead simply continuing to ascend, before a clever fade out which leaves you with a real feeling of anticipation for the next release. Surely an album can't be far away now? You have the feeling that when it does, it'll be a bit special. Very exciting times indeed.

Listen to the EP here: http://theskinwerein.bandcamp.com/
Keep up with all of the bands official news here: http://www.breakingtunes.com/theskinwerein
Follow them on Twitter: @TheSkinWereIn

Review by Taylor Johnson

ep review ~ the remedy - death by groove

by 18:29
The Remedy
Death By Groove

One quick scan of the Belfast lads back catalogue and it's easy to see where there influences come from! Filled with funky bass riffs and progressive, chiming guitars, The Remedy (named after a line in a late Oasis record) carry an experimental vibe, verging on Everything, Everything territory, without the 80's style synths and effects. The band cross different genres throughout the songs, with a predominantly ska sound while maintaining their indie edge. With quirky song titles such as "Monkey With A Gun" and "Crown Jewels", complete with a unique vocal delivery from frontman Joel McCracken, The Remedy certainly are different ~ and thats no bad thing!

Currently gigging around Belfast.
Follow them on twitter @TheRemedyBand
Listen to "Death By Groove" here:  https://soundcloud.com/the-remedy-band-ni
Follow their musical adventures on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/OfficialRemedy

by Taylor Johnson

If you like: Inspiral Carpets, Madness, The Stone Roses - you'll like The Remedy.

Death By Groove is the bands debut ep.
The Remedy "get down with da trumpets"
at a gig in the Pavillion, Belfast.

primal scream - the venue - march 2013

by 17:48

Unlike many bands of similar cult like status, Primal Scream entered the stage to wild raptures and chants of adoration by simply walking on and saying "it's great to be here". No theatrics, no crowd rousing walk on tunes, just a smile and a wave and the bands newest single for many years. This was the Primal's reintroduction to the people and they seemed hungrier than ever to enjoy every moment of it.
(New bassist Simone Butler oozed class and looked radiant throughout.
Worth the ticket price alone truth be told!)

In a polished set, a cleverly structured integration of old and new, the Primals showed just why they've survived in this cut throat business for so long (since 1982 infact!) and why they are continuing to play to sell out arenas today. New single "It's Alright, It's Okay" was given a fantastic reception, despite only officially being released to the public just weeks earlier, it's catchy chorus and bright, optimistic disposition captured the vibe of the venue perfectly. In fact, all of the material went down well, but as to be expected, it was the classics that elevated this gig from excellent to extraordinary. "Here's one you might know, it's from an album called Screamadellica", laughed an assured and confident Bobby Gillespie, who seemed in top form throughout and delivered a vocal performance worthy of the tracks he was playing. "Moving On Up" saw several intoxicated fans fly over the barrier, be it in the delusion that they may end up on stage with their hero's, or the misguided ensuing feelings of youthful euphoria, bringing their evening to a rather ridiculous  if hilarious end. "Loaded" was, of course, the gem of the encore as Londonderry's originally named "Venue" arena erupting into scenes of spontaneous dancing, surely taking the band back to their days gigging in the indie clubs of Manchester in the early 1990's.
The magic of Primal Scream lies within their own passion and enthusiasm. It's evident watching this band that they still have unfinished business with the musical world and that money is surely not a predominant factor in proceedings. Watching the Primals felt like taking a step into the halcyon world of music every generation feels like they missed out on and wishes they could have been a part of. As long as they can continue to provoke such emotions, long may they continue.

Primal Scream
"The Venue"
Londonderry~Derry (whatever floats your boat)
March 19th 2013

(Bobby Gillespie was in fine form - and surrounded by beams of light apparently)

Screamadellica featured heavily on a brilliant set.

lewis watson - the crescent arts centre, belfast

by 13:15
Lewis Watson
The Crescent arts Centre
Sunday 24th March 2013
Support from: Aaron Shanley, Mike Dignam

An air of excitement hung around Belfast's Crescent Arts Centre on Sunday night as acoustic singer-songwriter Lewis Watson came to town to play only his third ever gig on Irish soil. I was fortunate enough to see young Lewis on his debut at the Oh Yeah Centre last year and was extremely impressed with his effortless banter with the audience and his positive and friendly disposition, so my expectations were high!
Lewis had support from Aaron Shanley, a 23 year old songwriter from Lisburn who's already toured Britain and America extensively and that precious experience shone through in a strong set which saw him play songs mostly from his debut EP "Let The Sun In". Aaron's Donavon-esc guitar work was complimented by his powerful and yet delicate vocal delivery, sprinkled with hints of Iain Archer and indie  rockers Tokyo Police Club's frontman David Monks. Aaron's song writing is moving and emotional and yet searingly honest, giving glimpses into the mind of a young man who's clearly suffered some degree of heart ache. "Sometimes People Just Fall Out Of Love" and "You Know We Could Be Friends" the highlights of a beautifully crafted performance.
When Lewis finally entered the stage to screams of pandemonium  the grin on his face told the story. He's living his dream and goodness how it showed. With the added dimension of a full band to add to his sound, the Oxford born singer opened with "Once Before", a beautiful ballad of young love, with sincere and  sophisticated lyrics far beyond his young years. He quickly followed this up with fan favorites "Windows" and "Bones", which appeared on his Youtube channel long before success came knocking on the door. What sets Lewis apart from the many other wannabe acoustic acts is his genuine passion and appreciation for what he's doing. He interacts with the crowd as though he is an old friend, thanking them constantly for being there and expressing his happiness at every opportunity  It has to be said, the fans would be there regardless of this attitude, but they may not love him to quite the same extent either! This was typified when mid-way through the setlist he said "This is when the band say 'BRB' or 'be right back' for anyone who didn't have MSN", and as the laughter died down he jumped off the stage and asked the audience to sit in a circle around him. It was an incredibly intimate and bizarrely wonderful moment, as Lewis unplugged his guitar and serenaded the audience with two new tracks, one of which came after an impromptu request from a member of the crowd. Lewis simply shouted back up to his waiting band "One more song guys? That okay?" and then  played in one of the most genuine acts I've ever witnessed at a concert.
As he returned to the stage he finished up with a couple more from the new EP before claiming that he "never really understood encores" and so stayed where he was to end with his title track from the latest EP, "Into The Wild" which had every member of the audience singing their hearts out. He then took the obligatory Instagram picture and left to even louder applause than when he came on.
After the gig Lewis stayed behind to greet each and every single person there, posing for pictures and signing autographs for over an hour, considering this was the very last date of a tour which started in early March and has saw him tour all across Britain and Ireland it was a particularly generous act. All things considered, Lewis Watson is well worth seeing, especially at these early gigs. The debut album can't be far away and when it arrives expect him to take off.

Review by Taylor Johnson.

(Lewis met every fan - Legend!)

SharkWeek - maddens bar - antrim

by 13:48

Last Friday night I found myself sitting on a bar stool in a little pub called “Maddens” nestled in the heart of Antrim’s main street. On a night such as this the drill it seems is fairly straightforward, music on the Jukebox until around ten, until the resident DJ takes to the stage and entertains the punters with some generic “beats”, however tonight was not like any other night. Tonight saw the return of a young three-piece from Antrim that go by the name of “Shark Week”, with a point to prove and an attitude to match the mood shifted from the second the boys walked on stage. On a night like this words were never going to win over a highly charged and often rowdy crowd and this was realised very early on with the simple and almost nonchalant intro from their young front man and lead guitarist Milo Dunn-Clarke, “Hey we’re Shark Week and were here to play you a few songs…”, which was followed by Dick Dale’s cult classic "Misirlou" which blended seamlessly into Vampire Weekends international hit “A-Punk” which set the tone for an night of sheer adrenaline. The boys then really began to let their talent shine through, covering songs that bands who have been playing together for many years wouldn’t dare to even attempt. Songs that require such technical brilliance as Arctic Monkey’s “Fake Tales of San Francisco” and “Where Is My Mind?” by Pixies were covered without hesitation and with minimum effort, the rasping vocals of Dunn-Clarke practically shouting the lyrics, demanding the audience’s attention, not that he needed to as heads had already turned by this stage in sheer astonishment at the professionalism of these local lads. Each of the members had opportunities to show off their personal technical abilities, the bass playing from Andrew Burns in “Sabotage” by The Beastie Boys, his brother Timmy’s drumming in songs such as “Hello Operator” by The White Stripes and Dunn-Clarke’s guitar soloing in “Foxy Lady” by Jimmy Hendrix, however the most impressive moments came when the boys brought all of it together, a personal highlight coming during “Fresh Blood” by Eels. Towards the end of the set came the debut of the bands first original song, “My Dog” a raw, blast of a song that would not have looked out of place on an early Libertines record, which shows that the music of the people is not always poetic tales of a broken relationship, but can be as simple as “My dog is better than your dog”. After finishing a blinding set, which got the entire bar onto the earlier vacant dance-floor, the boys closed with “Bullet In The Head” by Rage Against The Machine which received wild applause and chants of “One more tune!” from a very impressed crowd. Then in true “Rock ‘N’ Roll” fashion the resident DJ was forced to wait that little bit longer as the iconic bass line to “Reptillia” by The Strokes filled the room, forcing what seemed like the entire population of Antrim onto their feet for an encore.
These boys may have entered the stage to the declaration of “Don’t Believe The Hype” by Public Enemy, but after a performance like this it seems the hype is not only well justified, its only gonna get bigger.

Maddens Bar
Taylor Johnson
December 2012

(Timmy, Milo and Andy - their dog is better than your dog)

Swim Deep gig review - oh yeah music centre

by 05:37
Swim Deep

An air of nostalgia hung around the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast tonight, matched by a feeling of optimism and hope brought about by the emergence of 90’s inspired indie outfit “Swim Deep”. The Birmingham boys, fronted by Austin Williams, were in celebratory mood as they played the last night of their 17 day tour and opened the show in a similar fashion.
Having only released two songs to the public so far, without even an EP to their names, the band have done incredibly well to build a loyal fan base across Britain. In Belfast however, it seems the rippling waves of success haven’t yet percolated through as the venue was, surprisingly only half full. This didn’t seem to discourage the band though, as a trademark William’s “Woo!” kicked off proceedings. The band played songs from their eagerly awaited debut album, with most songs filled with swirling guitars and harmonious vocals, as if someone had taken whale song and added a synth to it. Fan favourite “Honey” frustratingly came just in time for a technical difficulty in Williams’ guitar, causing a loud buzzing which would easily have damaged a lesser bands confidence. Instead it simply highlighted this young group’s maturity as Williams ditched his guitar and switched to full frontman mode, playing to the crowd and delivering a great vocal performance. The highlight of the set came midway through, when a new song was introduced as being “just for us” as a way of thanking the dedicated Belfast fan base.  What followed was an extremely melodic guitar riff which echoed the sounds of a young Verve, washing over the audience like a wave and driven by a powerful bass line from Cavan McCarthy.  The unreleased tracks name wasn't mentioned, but it promises to be an extremely strong focal point to the debut album.
The band ended their set and the tour to another single, grunge-pop tune “King City”, which had the entire venue singing along to the chorus as the band hit top gear. The effects of constant touring has clearly taken a lot out of the band and as the final chords rang out bassist McCartney and Rhythm guitarist Tom Higgins left the stage as Williams and drummer Zachary Robinson clattered their instruments in a frenzy and in true Nirvana style continued to trash the stage, knocking down mics, guitars and the drum kit in the process. It was a wonderful, if bizarre, end to a great gig and successful tour.

Taylor Johnson.
Swim Deep - Oh Yeah Music Centre
Belfast. 2nd March 2013.
(Drummer Zachary stayed behind to greet fans after the gig! Top bloke!)


by 05:37
Welcome to encore northern ireland, this site is going to be used to review bands both local and national, gigs, albums and singles.

If you are in a band or are a solo artist interested in being reviewed and put on the blog, drop us an email on this address: tjohnson549@hotmail.com

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