live review ~ hidden machine 03 ~ in an instant | 'a light you know and love' ep launch with affleck & c-beams (part 1)

by 21:20

29th May 2014. Only three or four days off the 1st anniversary of Bangor's In An Instant's first ever gig at The Menagerie, Belfast. Despite being in the embryonic stage of band development, the three school friends gathered on stage (Mark Hegan, Ryan Davison and Andrew Rutledge) happened to leave a surprisingly vivid imprint on the memory of the crowd. There was something in the way the frontman handled himself, so assured, so determined, so totally in the moment. The drumming? Tight as is imaginable, never missing a beat, while the lead guitarist danced through the soaring melodies like a seasoned veteran. Thankfully Blast 106 and BBC broadcaster James Magill was there to witness that momentous moment, and in a beautifully ironic twist just one year later it was his and Nikki MacRae's Hidden Machine gig night that would provide the backdrop to their deserved rise, as the band went full circle.

In local music terms, very few gigs make the leap from excellence to legendary. And So I Watch You From Afar's final farewell to Tony Wright, in which he was literally carried by the crowd from the stage of the Ulster Hall to it's grand exit was one. A Plastic Rose's final Belfast gig before their move to Nottingham another, in which social convention was dismissed in favor of wild swinging off amps and lighting equipment in Radar, Queens Student Union. Rams Pocket Radio moving a tent full of strangers to tears and spontaneous hugging at the final ever Glasgowbury could not be forgotten. Then there's Snow Patrol, perhaps our greatest ever export. Our lasting legacy to the greater musical landscape of Britain, Ireland and beyond, returning for a glorious homecoming, not in the capital city, but in Bangor's Ward Park. We can now add In An Instant's debut EP launch for Hidden Machine - Voodoo, Belfast to that list.

In An Instant released their long awaited debut EP 'Light You Know And Love' to a full house in Voodoo to headline Hidden Machine. With long established Affleck and respected songwriter Paul Shevlin's (formerly of Hologram) new outfit C-Beams supporting, it may have been understandable if the pressure of the evening took it's toll on this very young band. What instead happened was simply extraordinary. What this reporter witnessed tonight is an incredibly rare occurrence indeed. A night when seven months of toil, agonizing detail and drained emotions finally concluded in a crescendo of passion, adoration and utter resplendence.

In An Instant provided a performance that may well be considered as the start of something very special indeed. For those lucky enough to have been in the building (and fittingly, it was packed to the rafters) they will have witnessed a sound with the potential to fill the echoes of arenas, so explosive, raw and heartfelt in equal measure. The audience present were a pleasant mixture of home grown and Belfast based fans, where in a poetic act of friendly banter each member had been given a song which the crowd sung at the top of their voices before the band took to the stage. Much like a triumphant football teams victory parade, it was hard to move anywhere near the stage without hearing chants of 'Ricky, Ricky C!' or "Hegan is our leader!'. 

Each song carries its own distinct energy, so painstakingly crafted that sonically pushes this young band beyond many of their older contemporaries. This is not for one moment to suggest In An Instant lack stage presence, on the contrary the performance element of tonight's show was perhaps their strongest quality. As for every perfectly executed guitar solo or accurate drum fill, there was a raised arm clenched in a desperate hold onto every lyric from Hegan. There was an invigorating hand clapping signal from Crawford (who's falsetto'd backing vocals elevated the brooding middle eighth of lead single 'Something Right and Something Real') or a Johnny Marr styled flick of the head from Davison that showed just how much it means to this band to satisfy every person in the room, at all times. It's these moments an audience will never forget and these flickering memories that last far longer than a tight, though ultimately hollow performance ever could.

When opener 'Lovers Apart' comes crashing into its stunning flow, the intensity and epic qualities of this young four piece are showcased in their purest form. The severe emotional overhaul of 'Boundaries' builds to a pinnacle of mesmerising passion, while the encore's ready made hit 'All Binds Fall Undone' proved a justified finale. Indeed, in a loving act of compassion further encompassing Hegan's humble nature and lack of ego, he dedicated this closing number to his assembled family. A touching moment. There was even time for a completely unknown track to make it's debut, 'Keep On Moving With Your Heart In Place', a song so new the lyrics were apparently completed only the night before. So what must it have been like for this band to hear an audience singing the chorus back to them by the end of it? A track they are supposedly, 'still working on' and will only continue to grow into their live set.

Thinking about it now, the last young band we had carrying this sort of hype happened to be from Bangor as well. They didn't do too badly actually.

Tonight was something truly special. Something to live long in the memory.
Something Right And Something Real...

Taylor Johnson

If you like ~ Snow Patrol | U2 | Two Door Cinema Club ~ You'll love In An Instant

Keep up to date with all In An Instant news on the links below...


For more official Hidden Machine news, follow the links below...


first review in for 'modern life is rubbish'

by 07:04

We're incredibly proud to announce that the first official review for our new gig night 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' has came in from our good friends over at Gigging NI. The monthly gig night, held at the awesome Pavilion in Belfast, was a massive success with a hugely appreciative crowd and three bands that delivered memorable performances. There was a particular buzz around our little known entity 'Frank&Beans' who's unique art infused jazz-punk left a considerable impression on the gathered journalists and reviewers present.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all those who came down and witnessed the birth of what we hope to be one of the countries most beloved gig nights. We also want to thank the bands that made it possible, The Late Twos, Frank&Beans and His New Atlas. Plans are now in place for our second line-up, with the next date due for Wednesday 25th June.

If you're a band/artist and interested in earning a slot at Modern Life Is Rubbish, please contact us on the links below.


& be sure to check out our first review here.
Taylor Johnson

band member wanted | psychedelic four piece seek frontman/frontwoman/freeflowing positive vibes☮

by 02:37

Belfast's newest and most exciting young rock band 'BLOOM' have announced their intentions of hiring a vocalist, to add to their unique blend of trippy-rock and roll. Formed in early March of this year, the band (aged 18/19) have already established themselves as a promising outfit through a series of entrancing instrumental demos, seemingly born without the restrictions of common song structure and instead given the freedom to flow and progress in as natural a way as possible.

Situated in Belfast, but with members coming from as far a field as Bangor and Lurgan, BLOOM have seemingly no set ideas of who may be the perfect addition to their synth induced psychedelia and as such could potentially branch into any direction. Citing their influences as The Doors, Tame Impala, Led Zeppelin and The Beatles, the band, who have already gained considerable gigging experience through previous bands/projects, claim the vocalist 'could be anyone'  though should naturally share a similar music taste.

Think you could be the man/woman to elevate Blooms impressive back catalog of instrumentals (some lasting 25 minutes long) to a new level of consciousness? They practice every Monday night in Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre 15\21 Gordon Street and are considering everything and everyone.

You can get in contact with the band on the links below...


Taylor Johnson

new music video release ~ the twenty ~ 'have you seen her?'

by 09:29

Local punk outfit The Twenty have just released the new music video for new single 'Have You Seen Her?'. Drenched in typically dark rhythms and grooves, 'Have You Seen Her?' plays on The Twenty's ear for the ever so slightly heavier side of rock and roll, without ever compromising their strenuous punk roots.

Filmed on location at The Limelight, in Belfast, the music video plays on the not so classic 'boy (who looks suspiciously similar to a young Alex James...) goes to gig, boy see's girl across crowded dance floor and subsequently falls madly and deeply in love' format. What could easily have been a disastrously cliched effort, instead can boast a professionalism which acts as a perfect compliment to the Talking Heads styled delivery and fast paced dynamism of the song itself.

Engaging and polished, without ever taking itself to seriously, 'Have You Seen Her?' is a fine local video and further proof that the local music scene's array of home grown musical talent stretches far beyond our musicians themselves.

Taylor Johnson

For all official news from The Twenty, follow the links below.

& Watch the brand new video here.

Directed by Colm Laverty & Nikki MacRae.

modern life is rubbish launch night, line-up announcement ~ wednesday 21st may

by 06:55

It seems fitting that this websites 100th article should revolve around our biggest and most exciting development to date. As you probably know, we have been asked to run our own gig night in the famous Pavilion Bar, on the Ormeau Road in Belfast. Our launch night is Wednesday the 21st of May (next week ~ doors 9pm /£5 in) ~ and today we can finally reveal our debut line-up...

Opening the show is an artist who we first covered after the release of his stunning 'Blood' EP. A UK tour followed and as such the reputation of His New Atlas has grown deservedly as a result. With haunting tales of pain and heartbreak, the singer/songwriter's emotive delivery has blown many an audience away - we had the privilege of catching him live at Hidden Machine in Voodoo and knew there and then he had to play our launch. Get down early, you'll not want to miss this.

Second on the bill come a young two piece playing their first gig under a brand new moniker. 'Frank&Beans' launch into every gig as if it's their last, with a sonic bombardment of 'shoe gaze, thunder art punk' that has to be experienced to be truly understood. Cutting their teeth in the hugely promising 'Shark Week' and more recently 'Space Biters', this is a brand new start for a band of intense talent.

Finally, headlining come a band who need little introduction. Beloved by the people of Belfast and fresh from the release of their latest EP 'Get Down Before I Pull You Down', it's one of the countries best bands - The Late Twos.

Please give Modern Life Is Rubbish some social media love on the links below!


big news ~ encore ni presents belfasts newest gig night...'modern life is rubbish'

by 15:33

Encore NI are proud to announce that we are hosting Belfast's newest gig night, 'Modern Life Is Rubbish'.
Having finally confirmed our debut line-up (to be officially announced tomorrow) we can finally reveal we are hosting the night in Belfast's Pavilion Bar on the Ormeau Road. This iconic venue has played host to some of the countries best talent, and we shall strive to continue to deliver such quality with each and every line-up we produce.

The launch night is next Wednesday, the 21st of May and will feature three brilliant, high profile local acts.

We can assure you this is not a night to be missed and would majorly appreciate as many people in through the door as possible, to help make it a success.

As an independent music website, to be asked to put on a gig night of this caliber is incredible and far beyond what we ever thought possible. We want to take this opportunity to again thank everyone who has read our articles, shared our pages and requested reviews - as well as all the fantastic bands we've had the pleasure of featuring since our inception last year. You're what keep the local music scene alive.


Taylor Johnson

top 10 ~ best acts you've never heard (probably) ~ part 2

by 04:19

Rounding up our list of the top ten best acts you've never heard (probably), we take you into the top five. From atmospheric desolation, to moving poetry of war torn Holland, these are the bands and artists forever on the outskirts of a society which, to almost quote the genius that is Stephen Patrick Morrissey, 'really doesn't know and really doesn't care'. This is our top 5.

5. Explosions In The Sky

In a US state known more for it's BBQ sauce than it's revitalizing post-rock, Texas natives Explosions In The Sky's unprecedented arrival onto an unsuspecting music scene came as quite a shock to the system back in a 1999 still feeling the hangover of a grunge movement not yet killed off by Kurt Cobain's tragic suicide. Building their ground breaking epic sound around a floury of classical, to even darker rock influences, the band's instrumental power and atmospheric prowess soon singled them out as pioneers of a new millennium. As the years went on, 'Explosions...' got better and better, their potential to write haunting, moving scores capturing the attention of Hollywood, who utilised this ability to devastating effect. To date, the band have recorded the soundtracks to three major films, as well as putting out six of their own albums. To add to the bands reclusive stance and rejection of fame, further mystery surrounded them upon the release of their second album 'Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever'. Released exactly one week before the September 11th attacks, the albums artwork featured a plane flying at a low altitude over what appears to be New York City. Further inspection of the albums linear notes show a small picture of a grounded airplane in a veil of light, with the small inscription 'This Plane Will Crash Tomorrow' written beneath it...

Download ~ 'First Breath After Coma' , 'Your Hand In Mine''Greet Death'

4. Startled Space Moth

The brain child of Northern Irish, London based songwriter Aaron Shanley, Startled Space Moth is a full on punk infused, hard hitting rock and roll band with, miraculously, only one member. Left to play, fine tune and program every instrument on every recording, Aaron's Started Space Moth differs hugely from the plaintiff love songs and melancholic heartbreak of his solo records, setting the bar with huge riffs, aggressive overtones and captivating melodies. Due to the technical complexities of having one man and several instruments to deal with, Startled Space Moth rarely venture beyond the recording studio. Thankfully, due to Shanley's meticulous strives for perfection, every blistering track on the two SSM EP's to date have been well worth the wait.

Download ~ 'CSI NY''The Bars Are Closed'  

3. Nosferatu D2/The Superman Revenge Squad

At number three we have an equal tie of two bands, forever interlinked through both blood and the adoration of BBC Radio 6. The brilliantly named Nosferatu D2, (a combination of the famous German expressionist film and Star Wars charming robotic bin type thing), came to light some time around 2005 and like an indie Eva Cassidy didn't gain anywhere near the recognition they deserved until long after their musical death. Releasing only one brief album before quickly disbanding, brothers Ben and Adam Parker's fast paced, experimental indie captured the hearts and minds of those with the vision to recognize the brothers lyrical prowess and fascinating complexities. Championed by Los Campesinos! and the BBC's Steve Lamacq, the brothers quickly assembled a loyal, cult following, before announcing their unexpected and sudden split. Their one album however, 'We're Gonna Walk Around This City With Our Headphones On To Block Out The Noise' remains a cult classic, with it's visionary tales of disappointment and disgust at a consumerism induced world ruined by ourselves.

After Nosferatu D2's split, the brothers took a long hiatus from the music business, only to return later with The Superman Revenge Squad. A softer beast than the indie machine which preceded it, SRS contain much of it's ancestors disillusionment with the world around it, but with a slightly more introspected approach. Again, it is the young Parker brothers poetry which tragically makes this bands entire sound. From the quiet celebration of underachievement in 'Lately I've Found Myself Regressing', to the Fightstar angst (from the perspective of a philosophical canine - which contains the heartrending prose 'I couldn't do the things you did to me, to you... It's funny, I hate you but inside I really love you...') of 'The Angriest Dog In The World', their newest album 'There Is Nothing More Frightening Than The Passing Of Time'  is, like much of their work, a masterpiece.

Download ~ Nosferatu D2 ~ 'A Footnote', '2 People, 0 Superpowers',  'Springsteen' 
The Superman Revenge Squad ~ 'Lately I've Found Myself Regressing', 'Paulie In Rocky Three', 'We're Here For The Duration' 

2. Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia...

Possibly the most intriguing band on this list, Oxfords 'Meanwhile, Back In Communist Russia...' took ambient post rock to new levels, writing their songs along the poetry and spoken monologues of vocalist Emily Gray. Their powerful sound, combined with Gray's haunting dry, tones created a swirling mass of dark energy and foreboding, an unusual result from five friends studying at Oxford University in the late 90's. Elusive and often lacking elaborations, 'Meanwhile,...' opened many doors to England's post-rock scene and unearthed new ground through their minimalist set up and quiet on stage demeanor. They released two albums, 2001's 'Indian Ink' and 'My Elixir, My Poison' two years later. The band would come to an end in unusual circumstances while promoting their final record. Whilst taking part in an interview with a local TV channel severe technical difficulties led to the band storming out of the studio, leading the station to announce they would never feature another live band again. 'Meanwhile,...' continued on for a further year, though the damage had been done and they played their final show in late 2004 in London's Bar Academy.

Download ~ 'Blindspot/Invisible Bend' , 'Morning After Pill' 

1. Neutral Milk Hotel

The creators of what is widely considered by many music critiques to be one of the greatest albums ever written, and yet Neutral Milk Hotel are a band still steadfast in the indie backstreets of music notoriety. Frontman Jeff Magnum began recording under the Neutral Milk Hotel moniker in the late 1980's, recruiting a few of his closest friends from High School to later make up the bands line-up. As his songwriting progressed, he released a debut EP, 'Everything Is' a few years after the initial gigging process, alone, in his bedroom. As Magnum's live band continued to gel alongside him, the idea of making Neutral Milk Hotel less of a solo project became more of a priority and two years later 'On Avery Island' would be the newly christened bands debut full length LP. Known for their psychedelically infused, orchestral sound, the band soon gained a local following and some respect for their bizarre compositions. It was to be the Summer of 1997 however, that the band would reach their dizzying peaks. Both lyrically and sonically 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea' is considered a masterpiece, with songs (supposedly) about Anne Frank, the acceptance of death and subsequent appreciation of life, and the absurdity of simple existence, it is, in this journalists humble opinion, the 90's equivalent to The Beatles Sgt Peppers. Raw and acoustic, with only the folk twang of an accordion or brass section to guide Magnums emotive melodies, Neutral Milk Hotel had pulled off something extraordinary. Which is why it made perfect sense to immediately announce an indefinite hiatus almost immediately after the albums release. Now reunited and playing Belfast's Limelight on the 15th of May, you'd be a fool to miss it.

Download ~ 'In The Aeroplane Over The Sea', 'King Of Carrot Flowers Pt. 1', 'Holland 1945'

Taylor Johnson
"One Day We Will Die, and Our Ashes Will Fly, From The Aeroplane, Over The Sea"

top 10 ~ best acts you've never heard (probably) ~ part 1

by 17:08

In the wider world of music journalism we're all too quick to praise the high flying bands and artists that rally into our pop charts and capture a nations hearts. Occasionally, these bands strike a chord far beyond a catchy melody and write a song that can transcend the constraints of time. If they do this consistently, they become heroes. If not, they become a distant memory. Either way they'll be brought to the attention of the mainstream and lauded for as long as the nation continues to adore them. For some acts however, this is simply not an option. Much too outrageous or flamboyant to break free from their niche, these artists revel in legend that only those who go looking for it will ever find. This is a subculture shrouded in myth, constantly followed by misinterpretation and confusion from many, not that it matters. They make music for themselves, often poetic and always personal, much too personal for the likes of Radio 1. Which is why tonight Encore NI seeks to bring you the top 10 best acts you've never heard. (probably).

10. Joe Echo

Sneaking into the top ten is a man who's impressive CV could sit comfortably alongside most pop superstars, yet County Down native Joe Echo's distinctive moniker barley registers with even the most passionate music journalist. That's because Joe Echo, real name Ciaran Gribbin, unfortunately only had a short solo career under his elusive pseudonym, making a real name for himself in his first band Leya, (who toured with the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Embrace amongst other established acts) and more recently after he was snapped up as the new frontman of beloved Australian 80's rock band INXS. As Joe Echo, Ciaran arguably wrote much of his best material, songs like 'Personal Alcatraz' and the stunning 'The Heart That Knows Desire' ranking among pops great lost anthems. He released very few EP's during his solo career, though 'The Billion Tree's EP' still adorn the music collections of those fortunate enough to catch the singer/songwriter at a live gig during his brief solo spell. Melodic hooks, emotive croons and a voice of clear distinction, it's no wonder Gary Lightbody invited him to sing backing vocals on Snow Patrol's  massive 'Eye's Open' album.

Download* ~ 'The Heart That Knows Desire'

9. The Remedy

Coming in at number nine is another local act, this time four parka wearing, retro loving, 'mad fer it's' from the streets of Belfast. A fairly new entity, The Remedy started life as a school boy project known as The Essentials, before changing their name and overhauling their sound massively as a result. Embracing a new found attitude, The Remedy soon added an orchestral twang to the indie-ska rock of their early days, quickly establishing themselves as a band of merit and genuine class in the process. Their debut 'Death By Groove' EP opened doors to many of the capitals top venues and for a while it seemed like The Remedy's blaze of popularity could barley keep up with itself, bands as respected as The Late Twos and The Couth raving about the next generations bold new visionaries. The release of a brand new single 'Different Class' highlighted just how far they had come, giving an exciting, though ultimately fleeting glimpse into a massive follow up record which sadly never came. The band would go on an unofficial hiatus following drummer Chris Hanna's departure and divisions within the group are reported to remain strained. Throughout Belfast there is an undercurrent of hope that they will one day reunite and finally record the rest of what seemed certain to be a brilliant EP, but until an official statement from the band is released it is looking increasingly unlikely.

Download ~ 'Different Class'

8. Kurt Vile

The ominous Kurt Vile is a man of mystery and intrigue and heartrendingly beautiful guitar. Making his name in ambient Canadian outfit The War On Drugs, Kurt, who founded the band, left immediately after the release of their critically (though not commercially) successful debut album and has never looked back. With haunting precision, Kurts prose could well be a stream of consciousness or the carefully crafted riddles and complexities of a man lost in his own dream. It's nearly impossible to tell and perhaps it's best to leave it that way. Lie back in a dark room and let Kurt's sweet shimmer guide you to sleep.

Download ~ The entire 'Smoke Ring For My Halo' album. (Though 'Peeping Tomboy', 'Baby's Arms' & 'Runner Ups' will be enough to get you started)

7. The Mascara Story

Another local band, Londonderry/Derry's The Mascara Story. Formed by songwriter and media mogul Daveit Ferris, this three piece alternative outfit rose from the back streets of the Northern Irish music scene to heights at the time only really explored by Ash and an incredibly young band by the name of Snow Patrol. The difference with The Mascara story lay in their sound and image. Quick to distinguish themselves from the early two thousands 'sk8r boi indie', the three piece soon pioneered a new age of angst ridden, emotional rock - where suddenly it was okay to sing about sadness and poetic introspection became cool again. Perhaps The Mascara Story's greatest achievement lay in their relationship with their audience. They connected in a way not often experienced on a local level and, whether they knew it or not, inspired many young bands in the process. The band's determination and subsequent fan base saw them win Snicker's hugely respected 'Unsigned Contest', where they went on to professionally record debut single 'This Is Not A Bruise', which won airplay on Kerrang TV, eventually reaching number Number 13 on the UK Rock Chart. Inevitably, The Mascara Story's melancholy heartache would merit the sort of sad ending  Daveit Ferris regularly wrote about in his songs, as they split up a year later.

Download ~ 'Conquer You', 'Cue The Violins'

6. Phoneys & The Freaks

Quietly building in the underbelly of Manchester's music scene a living legend is piecing together his return alongside a local solo artist who's distinctive croon has drawn comparisons to The Verve's Richard Ashcroft. Throw into the mix that the living legend in question just so happened to have formed one of the greatest bands of all time and that's a rather promising mix indeed. Here Oasis's original rhythm guitarist Bonehead's soft acoustic guitar is infused gently with Alex Lipinski's soaring vocal to create 'Phoneys and the Freaks', a band bursting with delicate ambiance with rock and roll overtones. Certain to be a cult favorite, expect Phoneys and the Freaks to play some of the worlds coolest venues. They wont sell out Wembley Stadium, but nor would you want them too. Music this good is wasted on the mainstream.

Download ~ The self titled monitor mix of new track 'The Phoneys & The Freaks'

Part 2 Coming soon...Who would make you're top 5?
Let us know!

Taylor Johnson

*Encore NI does not condone the downloading of any form of music, unless you're absolutely sure you can't get it anywhere else and/or you're skint x 
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