track of the week ~ silhouette ~ 'put the silence on hold'

by 13:06
It seems our usual 'single of the week' segment has had a slight change this week, as the song that we can't get out of our heads hasn't infact been released as a single. Instead we dive into the world of Northern Irish songstress 'Silhouette' and a track from her debut EP 'Can't Keep Up'. Having gained phenomenally high levels of critical appraisal through the title track of her EP (and its subsequent use on the Northern Irish advertising board amongst others), Silhouette has had to work tirelessly to live up to her own hype. This week Taylor Johnson has been listening to her EP, as he explains why, despite the pressure, Silhouette has continued to create the type of alternative ballads this country has long been crying out for.

Opening with the sort of serene and heartfelt acoustic guitar progression that has elevated songs such as 'You and Me' by Lifehouse to the emotional masterpieces that they are, Silhouette's 'Put the Silence On
Hold' begins as honestly and passionate as it means to go on. Sillouette's (real name Shauna Tohill) clear and ethereal tone is a perfect compliment to the slowly building atmosphere around her. The verses drift hazily into life, Tohill's thought provoking prose as captivating as it is tragic. The strong vocal melody could be straight out of  Cranberries frontwoman Dolores O'Riordan's back catalogue, weaving through the somber backing tones, as it builds to its chorus, which glides gently into life with Tohill's soaring vocals depicting more emotion in one note than many artists are able to convey in an entire track. Lyrically, the depths at which this track falls into is never dark or harrowing, yet it can't help but tug at your heartstrings and anyone who's ever felt the wreckless abandon of young love or heartbreak will no doubt relate easily to what is an incredibly genuine song. The vivacious addition of violin to the chorus and subtle use of piano in the verses adds an extra dimension to a song brimming with honesty. At it's best, 'Put the Silence On Hold', particularly with it's passionate chorus, could be a Taylor Swift ballad, yet, it's also easy to imagine the trademark drawl of a young Stevie Nicks singing this song with equal power and intensity, and that is where Silhouette's true natural talent lies. It lies in her effortless ability to write incredibly personal songs, with  widespread appeal. She can connect through her lyrics to as many people as are lucky to hear her, without loosing her alternative edge. A rare and exciting combination.

Taylor Johnson

If you like; Bat For Lashes, Florence and the Machine, Rams Pocket Radio   ~ You'll love, Silhouette.

Download Silhouette's debut EP, 'Can't Keep Up' here and listen to 'Put the Silence On Hold' here. 

Silhouette's debut EP 'Can't Keep Up' is out now...

live review ~ 'the cellar bar's long goodbye' ~ cellar bar, draperstown

by 09:06

As the sun looks to finally set on the musical heritage of Draperstown's Cellar Bar, the feeling that the end of an era is finally upon us has grown ever more prominent, in a town steeped in musical history. After Patrick Glasgow's decision to call time on the famous 'Glasgowbury Festival', it seems the town that has for so long been at the epicenter of Northern Irelands local music scene has begun to move on, as the Cellar Bar too recently announced their decision to no longer host local music gigs. As sad as it is for the local musical community when I arrived last night for 'The Cellar Bar's Long Goodbye', a night of five bands for the outstanding value of £4, the locals were in great spirits, capturing the mentality of positivity and passion, that made The Cellar Bar one of the countries top venues for so many years. It was a brilliantly planned event, worthy of the occasion as one of the the famous bars last ever live gigs. No pressure for the musicians then...

The night was kicked off in definitive style as special guests 'Car Chase City' took to the stage. The band's infectious enthusiasm and boundless energy acted as the perfect introduction to the evening, getting the audience on their feet almost immediately. Car Chase City's unique take on American styled punk rock was very clearly embraced by this more rock orientated from the off, a feeling encapsulated by their reaction after an audacious Green Day cover went down a storm. The brilliantly titled, 'Dude, Can I Borrow Your Straighteners?' flowed seamlessly, the bands energetic performance at times just as enticing as the music. Highlights of an uptempo set came during the Blink 182 styled 'Home', that had the band at their full frontal best, standing on amps, diving around the stage and headbanging as if their lives depended on it. As the song blasted along to it's distortion heavy conclusion, two members of the audience ran on stage and proceeded to hoist the lead singer and bassist in the air, triumphantly shirking any and all safety regulations in the name of rock and roll. It was the kind of reckless abandon and spontaneous optimism that only the Cellar Bar can produce and the audience were loving every second of it.

Next on the bill was Belfast's most exciting alternative rock act 'Those Ghosts'. With an already fully formed wall of sound, the band captivated from the off, enticing the crowd with their own brand of melodic, riff driven stadium rock. Blasting through an incredibly tight and polished set, the Strabane lads turned out potential hit, after potential hit, with tracks such as 'Enemies' sounding like a classic, just waiting to make it's appearance on a Fifa soundtrack. With U2-esque soaring lead guitar coupled with Aodhan Doherty's stunningly unique vocal, you cant help but feel that 'Those Ghosts' have all the ingredients to add their name to the long list of great alternative rock bands emerging from Britain in recent years. Towards the end of the set they unleashed 'Evelyn', the resplendent jewel in the crown and they know it, cleverly dedicating it to The Cellar Bar and it's dedicated punters, a beautifully executed piece of frontmanship that had, for the first time, the whole bar singing along to the incredibly catchy chorus. Despite this passionate and exciting moment, the highlight of the set came just before it, as Those Ghosts introduced a new song to their ever growing set. The beautifully articulate and genuinely moving 'Not Waiting For The End'. Set to a melancholic and serene back drop of arpeggio guitar and with Doherty's delicate vocal capturing the raw emotive atmosphere, 'Not Waiting For The End' is quite possibly the best song the band have written in their short time. If they continue to create songs of that quality and honesty the future could be incredibly bright for Those Ghosts.

This was followed by 'Dog Will Hunt', a guitar driven three piece who describe their sound as 'heavy dance funk'. This unusual combination of rhythmic grooves, high tempo, upbeat riffs and angry screamed vocals got a fantastic reception, as well as creating a colourful and perplexing contrast, that shouldn't be attempted to figure out, but should instead, simply be enjoyed. Taking obvious influence from local punk rock hero's 'And So I Watch You From Afar', If Dog Will Hunt's manifesto was to get people dancing, create a mini, but by no means less committed mosh pit and play very, very loudly, then it was no doubt mission accomplished. A fantastic relationship with the audience and natural stage presence added a personal touch to a watertight set.

As Dogs Will Hunt played off their final riff, it paved the way for 'The Big Grizzly', an energetic, punk, metal three piece with an electronic edge. The band came storming out of the blocks, ripping straight into their set with all the vigor and passion of a band playing Wembly stadium. This was made all the more remarkable by the fact that, literally moments before taking the stage, The Big Grizzly's drummer (Sean O'Neill) was struck down by a disastrous case of 'Buckfast Disease' as the band looked like they would have to perform their unique blend of distorted-metal without a drummer. Luckily Car Chase City's drummer Phillip Crean had bought an earlier Big Grizzly EP and, in a bizarre twist of incredible luck, displayed the sort of  comradery that encapsulates the  spirit of the venue by agreeing to step in and drum the tracks from that EP. It meant having to completely change the gigs setlist and rely on a drummer they'd never worked with before, yet, it worked brilliantly. The Car Chase City drummer continued his fine form from the bands earlier set, to deliver a startlingly strong performance behind the drumkit. Charming and witty, Bill Woods bass playing and vocals never faltered, despite claims that a virus had left his throat 'Away with the fairies'. 'Get Loud' particularly stood out, as Anthony Captains frantic guitar work allowed Woods vocals to finally stretch itself, providing a melodic yet exhilarating performance. At it's best, it could even be reminiscent of an early Smashing Pumpkins. Cleverly structured, yet seething with anger. A high octane and fast paced set, The Big Grizzly turned a potential disaster into a memorable performance, but you get the feeling it couldn't have been achieved without Crean.

As the night progressed into the early hours it was finally time for the nights headliners, one of the countries hardest working rock bands, The Rupture Dogs. With an audience already fully committed to the Rupture Dogs cause, wearing their authentic t-shirts and discussing the possible setlist long before they'd taken to the stage, other than the momentous aspect of the occasion there was no pressure on the band and thankfully that's just how they played. It was a classic set from the veteran rockers, at times engaging, with dark and menacing guitar riffs, at times tumultuous, with passionately screamed vocals and doom laden, distorted bass riffs, but it remained captivating throughout and it was clear that The Rupture Dogs could have played those songs in their sleep. The enthusiastic and receptive crowd thrived off every syllable, as the band eased into proceedings effortlessly and easily. Years of touring have left them impeccably tight as a unit, the group were note perfect. The gig descended, understandably into madness towards the end of proceedings and as the final riff echoed out around the tiny venue, you couldn't help but feel the beginning of the end couldn't have got off to a better start. There's only a few more gigs left at The Cellar Bar and my advice? If you can, get to one of them. You wont regret it.

Taylor Johnson

Stand out band(s)? ~ Those Ghosts, Car Chase City

Stand out tracks? ~ Those Ghosts - 'Not Waiting For The End', The Rupture Dogs ~ 'Wake Up'

Keep up to date with all the bands on the links below;

Car Chase City
Those Ghosts
Dog Will Hunt 
The Big Grizzly
The Rupture Dogs

encore introducing...'moscow metro'

by 09:13

Limerick born 'Moscow Metro' are clearly a band determined to follow their own vision and remain out of the main stream. With a name derived from the tragedy of the Moscow City suicide bombings of 2010 and lyrical inspiration found in the social environments of modern life, it's clear 'Moscow Metro' know exactly what they want to achieve musically. With a gradual move into local musical consciousness, the band have already amassed a strong and dedicated fan bass, as well as a plethora of experience, gaining regular air play on many of Ireland's top radio stations. The most remarkable aspect of this incredibly rapid and exciting rise? They've only released two singles to date, but what fantastic singles they are.

Starting with the atmospheric, electricity of 'Spirit of the City', Moscow Metro manage to combine the raw, power of a young Glasvegas and back it with the haunting melodies and gently soothing riffs of a young Joy Division. As the track progresses, you can't help but feel Moscow Metro are the band Ian Curtis's tragic Manchester band should have gone on to be. With choir like counter melodies floating over an assured and striking baritone vocal, this cacophony of melancholic wonder simply leaves you wanting more. It's easy to see why so much faith has been placed in the Irish four piece, it's obvious from the audacity of their massive sound that they share that faith.

More aggressive and driven, they're other track 'Cosmos' paints a bleaker and more desolate picture, 'Nightmares of a bleeding heart, for and not falling apart, and it's been so long, since you've seen the light'   Dylan Casey's fast paced drum work drives the song onwards, though the real stand out features come on the chorus, when the melodic and soaring guitar riffs work in wondrous harmony with the deeply sensitive and low vocal. Towards the end of the track the heartrending nature of what is a highly emotional song draw the bands strongest vocals to date, as Barry McNulty is left shouting above Metro's wall of sound 'I lost you a long time ago, Nobody listened to me, nobody listened to me...'. It's as heartrending as it is captivating and you can't help but imagine Ian Curtis screaming along in his Hacienda hey-day.

Strikingly haunting, stunningly potent and startlingly real.
Around this time last year Moscow Metro told their small and dedicated following to 'Check out Little Green Cars' because, 'You'll be paying through the nose to see them next year'. One year on and after the release of their debut album (Absolute Zero ~ out now!) that prediction was proved 100% accurate. Encore now believes the same thing about Moscow Metro. If you can see them now go because...

You'll be paying through the nose to see them next year.

Taylor Johnson.

If you like; Joy Division, Editors, Glasvegas ~ You'll love Moscow Metro

Listen to Moscow Metro's latest singles here and keep up to date with the band here.

ep review ~ the end ~ 'the end ep'

by 08:55

Mysteriously drifting onto the Belfast music scene this Summer, with little to no advertising, The End are a rare breed. Not feeling the need to announce themselves as the new saviors of local indie has cast an enigmatic shadow on a band who would much rather let their music do the talking. Describing themselves simply as, 'four lifelong friends who grew up writing and playing music together', it paints a harmonious picture of a band wanting to simply make music for the joy of making music. Taylor Johnson got his hands on their debut eponymous EP.

Wasting no time with drawn out, building intros, The End start straight into their debut EP with a funk styled bass line, which soon bursts into the dream-pop like soundscape envisioned on the EP's cover. 'Say No' combines the upbeat  guitar riffs of an on form Aztec Camera and provides an undercurrent of delicate and sweet vocals layered over it, creating a light and breezy tone. Beautifully self deprecating and witty, ('don't say anything worth while, it will only be lost on me and you') the over all effects of this soulful and playful opener is a lasting smile, the perfect result for a track made for the festival circuit. The delicate and personal vocal delivery is reminiscent of a young Beautiful South or perhaps a more energised Loose Salute. Yet the biggest compliment that can be given to a track like 'Say No', is it has the vibe of a track that could easily stand it's place on 'So Much For The City', the stunning debut from the Irish band The Thrills. Like a refreshing wave of optimistic, guitar driven indie, 'Say No' is a wondrous opener.

'River', which follows, has a more melancholy tone. This time opening with acoustic guitar, the fading of the backing riffs adds to the atmosphere of another fantastic vocal performance. This time filled with spiritual undertones, The End again display a wit and complexity, totally unexpected on a debut EP. 'and if we play God, will he play us too?', a rhetorical question or profound social statement? Either way, it's incredibly thought provoking. The song builds to a Feeder-esque chorus, powerful and yet understated, with soaring riffs as uplifting as it is touching. The End sound like a band in full flight towards the end of the track, an atmosphere built out of splendor, that ends as serenely as it started, with Tired Pony styled choir vocals and a final strum of acoustic guitar.

The EP ends with 'Electric', bursting into the sort of intro that The Verve once lived on in their 90's hey-day, slow feed back and ethereal riffs cascading into life. This time the focus is on lost 'Summer days and electric nights' as the protagonist longs for his lost love. Atmospheric and bright, 'Electric' is the most accessible song of the EP, but that is no bad thing. Towards the end of the track, it soars and glides like all the belief of a Manic Street Preachers song, with an anthemic like quality.

With their self titled debut EP The End have created something very special. The most interesting aspect of their arrival has been the subtly and mysterious nature surrounding it. With virtually no obvious advertising techniques, word of mouth has started the build up of hype which surrounds their EP and it is this 'old school' technique which will allow it to continue to grow. Judging by the style of their already developed indie, you get a sense that The End may just like it that way. An incredible debut.

Review by Taylor Johnson.

If you like; The Loose Salute, The Beautiful South, The Thrills ~ you'll love The End.

Listen to 'The End EP' here & keep up to date with all The End official news here.

'The End EP' is out now...

album review ~ tired pony ~ 'the ghost of the mountain'

by 07:31

With a full year out (a hero's welcome in the shape of T-Vital aside) to gather his thoughts and reconnect with the subtle craft of songwriting, Northern Ireland's beacon of hope Gary Lightbody announced the release of his supergroup Tired Pony's second album  'The Ghost of the Mountain'. Far from suffering the dreaded 'Second album syndrome', "Ghost" see's this Tired Pony begin to stretch it's legs, as a piece of work that reinforces Lightbody's position as one of the worlds most gifted songwriters. Taylor Johnson had a listen...

The album opens in stunning subtly, a simple synthesized intro coupled with the most delicate of country guitar slides, which drifts into Lightbody's serene and heartfelt vocals. Unusually high for the Snow Patrol frontman, it shows his eagerness to give Tired Pony it's own unique identity. Right from the off the simplicity and striking fragility of the lyrics are as breathtaking as they are heartbreaking. 'Well I want you as you are, not some collapsing star'  Lightbody croons. Yet it's the chorus that is the most wondrous. 'I don't want you as a ghost, I don't want you as a fading light, I don't wanna be the weight you carry, I just wanna be the man you come home too'. Vivacious, emotive and searingly honest. It's Lightbody at his best, and his band don't sound too bad behind him either. The mellow vibe suits the almost cracked vocal delivery. What also becomes apparent is there is a running theme throughout the album, one that has been alluded to in recent Snow Patrol songs such as 'Lifening', and that is Lightbody's desire to reconnect with the carefree spirit he possessed growing up. It's as if he wants to forget about the pain and suffering that goes hand in hand with growing up and delve back into the endless freedom of childhood. 'The kids that we once were, they wouldn't know us now...'. Stunningly performed and incorporating a brass section towards the end of proceedings adds a different dimension. There's also an incredible guitar solo from R.E.M's Peter Buck. A beautiful introduction.

'I'm Begging You Not To Go' follows a similar vibe as the opener, with a lighter over coat. A catchy and light solo bubbles over the verses and works fantastically in the chorus. Again, Lightbody's stunning lyrics elevate the track to a new level. A captivating chorus, filled with impeccably executed backing vocals, is decorated with heart warming stories and again it is the simplest couplets which leave the lasting impression. 'Our shoes kicked off, side by side like they are dancing' is pure poetry. The band is sounding tight and brighter as a unit, with the darker shackles of expectation from 'The Place We Ran From' well and truly cast off it sounds like Tired Pony are no longer trying to prove anything to anyone other than themselves.

With a building choir like intro which bursts into a pulsating footstomping rhythm, 'Blood' marks the first change of pace in the record. It's also the first song to show the bitter side of Lightbody, his natural wit and evident frustration going hand in hand to perfectly remonstrate the pit falls of young love. 'It's alright, it's alright, a love like ours is easy it fuck! Is it fuck, I chopped through blood and bone for you'. If it came from the mouth of any other songwriter, it may be considered a poor attempt at self expression,  but through Lightbody's heartfelt delivery it's as tragic as the songs before it. The song builds to the type of chorus's Lightbody is now famed for mastering. Powerful, uplifting and as genuine as anything he's ever written. 'Blood' is a song that could so easily have been on Snow Patrol's third album 'Final Straw', a throw back to that era through the filter of a much wiser and considerate mind.

'The Creak in the Floorboards' begins with the type of palm muted guitar he built an empire around with Snow Patrol, the atmospheric density which surrounds it is a credit to producer Jacknife Lee. Again, a climactic chorus elevates the track to 'mass sing along status'. Bronagh Gallagher's stunning backing vocals in the chorus is simply intoxicating. 'Do You know what I'm looking for now? Cause I sure don't'.

Then comes the albums first single, the stunning 'All Things All At Once'. A track supposedly written in a drunken haze after a celebratory drinking session. With haunting vocal melodies, perfectly placed slide guitar to retain the folky nature of the album and lyrics that provide a reflection into the mind of Tired Pony's secretive frontman, it was an obvious choice for single. Again, Lightbody continues the metaphor of past glory, through a series of emotive and wonderfully written stanzas. 'These wings ain't for flying, these wings are just for show, it's been years since I've been flying, I am damned to the Earth'. Even the title, 'All Things All At Once', rolls sweetly off the tongue, but it is only through listening to Lightbody's ethereal delivery do you get a sense of the undercurrent of sadness on what is a powerful track.

'Wreckage and Bones' incorporates an intricate guitar intro, but perhaps the use of electronic drum beats means some of the soul of the song is perhaps buried underneath. 'The Beginning of the End' follows a similar formula, but with an electric guitar allowing the track to breath somewhat. It also see's the introduction of Ian Archer, who's distorted delivery works wonderfully and sweetly with Lightbody's creating a wonderful harmony. Unfortunately the chorus falls short of the captivating highs prominent earlier on and it would have been lovely to hear Archer's voice attempt the chorus. It's the first time on the record that you would struggle to distinguish between a Snow Patrol demo or a Tired Pony track.

'Carve Our Names' takes similar influences, though manages to present it in a gentler package. A song about 'carving our names into the ocean', here the band create a delicate story of simplicity and fun, yet you can't imagine it getting the strongest of live receptions. Lyrically sweet and certainly deep, but it never gathers the energy necessary to win them any new admirers. 'Ravens and Wolves' which follows, contains the delicate opening of a Sigur Ros track. With a chorus that blasts out from nowhere, 'Ravens and Wolves' show Tired Pony beginning to waken up. The contrast between verse and chorus could so easily be too contrasted, but instead it serves to the bands advantage, an unexpected gem in their ever growing arsenal. A crashing piano outro hits home like waves against a battered pier, a fitting end to a song which like a lighthouse ensured this album stayed on course.

After a bizzare, 80's styled intro (almost Echo and the Bunnymen-esque) 'Punishment' highlights a new direction for the band. Buck's heavier guitar riff blends uncomfortably into the background as a song which could have been a triumph of synthesized harmonies instead falls slightly flat. The most dedicated of Tired Pony fans may not be satisfied with this one, which may have hit the mark had it retained the acoustic format they're known for. This is followed by the title track, an example that electric and acoustic guitar can live in harmony under the right circumstances. More choir like vocals contrast some upbeat, rhythmic drumming as Tired Pony begin to get things together. The lyrical potency returns, 'You're the sweetest bitter end I could have hoped for' and 'I'm not a man, i'm just a shadow, just a fragment, just a ghost' glistening through.

The album ends with 'You're Way is the Way Home', a simple acoustic track highlighting the groups ability to bring together different elements to form a delicate conclusion. With subtle piano gliding in and out of the track, there's a slight feeling of Fallen Empires final track 'Broken Bottles Form A Star'. A beautifully melancholic ending to an album which stands to show that though this pony may be tired, it has no intentions of slowing down just yet.

Review by Taylor Johnson

Hear a preview of 'The Ghost Of The Mountain' here and keep up to date with Tired Pony news here.

Stand out tracks; 'I Don't Want You As A Ghost', 'Blood', 'All Things All At Once'

album review ~ linebacker dirge ~ 'take shelter'

by 16:06

'Take Shelter' is out now...
The art of the 'supergroup' is incredibly difficult to get right. If you look back at the long list of collaborations and pairings of musicians, who have came together to record an album, there are, ofcourse, a few success stories (Gary Lightbody's 'Tired Pony' or Damon Albarns 'The Good The Bad and The Queen' for example) but many more have  failed to live up to their talented lineups previous achievements. This week Encore NI takes a look at 'Linebacker Dirge', the brainchild of singer, songwriter Jason Gibson, who has to date already released two successful EP's,  gaining rave reviews amongst local alternative-indie circles in the process. 'Linebacker Dirge' revolve around the lyrical and musical styling of Gibson, while incorporating some of Northern Irelands  most talented and pioneering local artists to realise his visions. Taking the raw passion and energy of A Plastic Rose's lead guitarist Ian McHugh, the intricate basslines of A Northern Light's Colm Laverty and the blistering drumming of James 'Tree' Bruce from post-rock outfit Kasper Rosa and suddenly the expectations for Linebacker Dirge's completely self produced debut album are raised alot higher.

'Take Shelter' begins as it means to go on, with a hypnotic guitar riff setting an instantly enticing tone. Gibsons raspy vocal delivery gives the song an immediate incentive, making it clear that he has no desire to hide behind a synthesizer or heavy distortion. It creates a raw honesty that is reflected in the pulsating rhythm of a track that clearly holds onto a lot of anger. The sudden tempo change of the chorus is difficult to adapt to at first, but the short nature of the song allows it to flourish to a tempestuous ending, reminiscent of a young Biffy Clyro. It's an ending that allows Gibson's vocals to truly stretch itself, with belief and passion radiating from every word. The whispered ending line of 'I've died inside', providing a beautifully melancholy ending.

This is followed by 'Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Inmates', a guitar driven juggernaut which keeps the momentum of the title tracks chorus alive through explosive drumming and foot stomping rhythms. The chorus also shows an emotional fragility, permeating through Gibson's trademark angry plea. 'and I wish I knew, how to say to you to help you realise, that this is what you and I deserve'. The song continues at this pace, the growing emotion in Gibsons voice complimented beautifully by the violin of Affleck's Aiden Kelly. The highlight of the song, however, comes just before the final chorus as Gibson almost screams the words 'So what do you deserve?' as a wave of guitars blast in the background. It paints a searingly honest and heartfelt insight into the frontmans troubled mind, as the song fades into a series of melodic guitar riffs and driving drum beats.

Which brings us to what may well prove to be the hidden gem of this formidable debut, the raw, passionate plea of 'Words Are Missing'. With a lead riff that washes over like a sonic wave, the verses of this beautifully constructed song build slowly, the powerful vocals bursting into life around the 30 second mark. The anger and pain of the track really becomes clear at the erratic and tumultuous tempo change in the chorus. After such a delicate opening the sudden speed of an energised chorus shouldn't really work, however the precision and ease at which it's executed instead simply serves to highlight the groups musicality.

The interestingly titled 'Suzumushi Tsuishiki Enma Korogi' adds a Deaf Havana element to proceedings, a slow and atmospheric intro building to upbeat and catchy verses. Things slow again as the song progresses, again the atmospheric elements strengthened by Kelly's violin.  'Tiburon' which follows, again reverts back to Linebacker Dirges angrier tendencies. 'We broke against them, their families for freedom' Gibson snarls, the pain evident in every syllable.

'Blood Bruise' see's the band at their full frontal best, producing a song with the lyrical intensity of American punk rockers Rise Against, while ensuring their authentic sound remains dominant. Frantic, fast paced interplay between drums and guitars ensure that this quick fire assault on the senses will go down a storm live.

'Fall of the Armada' follows a similar formula, with verses spat out in indignant rage and high tempo speed drumming, while 'Burnt Out' continues the recurring themes of isolation of personal grievance through a more sorrowful tone, with a mournful guitar riff and for the first time, a predominant bass line. The song has a slower breakdown, allowing Ian McHugh's lead guitar to fully express itself through intricate solos.

'A Great Northern' provides a wonderful breaking point for the album, as an ethereal acoustic guitar intro paves the way for more of Gibsons melancholy tales. You can feel the singer almost breaking down mid song, as the emotional weight he's carried throughout the album begins to take its tole, yet he hangs in to produce one of his most brutally honest deliveries on a seemingly very personal track.

Linebacker Dirge then return to their electric guitars as 'A Short History Of Shuck And Jive' begins. Here Gibson gives arguably his best vocal performance, as the band express their emotion with less evident anger, but by no means less conviction. An atmospheric, almost electronic, style guitar solo provides a wonderful and assured break up, as it builds to a climactic chorus that could (dare I say it) be compared to a "Riot!" era Paramore. Excellent.

If the rest of the album showcases the bands frustration with the world and everyone on it, 'Valar Morghulis' is an outward statement of confusion and bewilderment in the situation we all find ourselves in. 'Cause you can flick off like a light-switch, even before you hear the end of this sentence'. An honest statement of frustration and bewilderment to whatever or whoever is in control of the universe. A beautifully constructed ending captures the confusion perfectly.

Both 'Rudderless' and 'A Descent' provide an appropriate end to the album. The military style drumming of 'Rudderless' shows a lighter side to the band, as talks of 'Dancing to Daft Punk in the kitchen' and  'everyone laughing in unison' replaces the emotionally strained honesty of other tracks. Just as you thought this sweetness may last, Linebacker Dirge burst into a trademark thrash, turning up the distortion and Bruce hammering out the kind of drumbeat that has won him many admirers in Kasper Rosa. 'A Descent' follows with a similar pattern, building from a slow and embellished riff to a high tempo chorus. As the song continues it improves, moving from an early Radiohead style grunge, to one the albums strongest anthems. Yet just as you think it's all over, the album hits its high point. Wait through fiver minutes of silence and you'll be greeted by an incredible piece of uplifting piano. The hidden track dives elegantly through Gibson's passionate vocals as  'Take Shelter' is given not only the indie-styled ballad it's been missing, but also the most reassuring and positive ending an album like this could ever not have wished for. An incredible and unexpected conclusion.

'Take Shelter' is an album which could so easily have been consumed and judged by the quality of the musicians on it, yet instead it's a testament to their professionalism and dedication. An album made of virtually no budget, it will serve as a lasting reminder to local bands far and wide that if you want something enough, you have to make it happen.

Review by Taylor Johnson.

Listen and download 'Take Shelter here & keep up to date with all Linebacker Dirge official news here.

Stand out tracks; '[words are missing]', 'Hitchhikers May Be Escaping Inmates', 'A Descent' (Bonus Track)'

single of the week ~ hologram ~ 'i've been listening'

by 14:53

Holograms are rising up, back on the streets, with their brand new single, which thankfully is not at all cheesy like the a fore quoted Survivor single. This new track is the third demo released by the Belfast alternative-rock new comers since they started in early 2012. The band, who boast a  distinctly unique sound sustained throughout three releases, create a dark atmosphere that contrasts with anthemic guitars and screeching leadlines. These idiosyncrasies understandably drawing comparisons to New York's post-punk rockers, Interpol.

'I've Been Listening', released on 4th August 2013, open with verses which propose questions through a series of inquisitive lyrics, which cleverly remain unanswered, as the songs builds in almost a pop-punk style with palm mutes exploding into a chorus that sounds colossal in size. Thanks to soaring backing vocals as well as subtle piano usage, both the production and musicianship demonstrated throughout are excellent, really showcasing the raw emotion and heartfelt vocals of a track that manages to display a feeling of optimism and hope particularly appropriate throughout bleak times (such as tonight when I can't afford to pack up and head to Sunflower Fest). With any luck this will trigger success for the alternative rockers, following in the footsteps of bands such as A Plastic Rose. This latest single is without doubt their most mature work to date and the most accurate reflection of their confident live performances, which have gained them a slot at this Year's 'Forfey Festival' in County Fermanagh. Having proved they can improve with each new release, get down and support the band at an upcoming gig before they get too hot to handle.

Review by Chris Hanna

Listen to the single here & hear more from Hologram here.

~ 'I've Been Listening' is out now ~
Powered by Blogger.