gig preview ~ 'scratch my progress' showcase...

At this moment in time local music in Northern Ireland has (with a few exceptions*) never been stronger. In an age of increasing commercialism and lesser artistic control, it is fundamentally important for each local scene to support their acts as much as possible. Here in NI, we benefit from possibly the most supportive local music structure in Britain, with the mothering arms of Across The Line on the BBC, The Oh Yeah Music Center and a thriving series of websites and magazines dedicated to ensuring it's survival. One of the best schemes to develop in recent years is 'Scratch My Progress', a development program designed to mentor local artists, ensuring they get a chance to record professionally, meet industry bigwigs and take part in a photoshoot with photography legend Carrie Davenport (amongst others).

This years acts are perhaps the schemes strongest to date, an eclectic mix of the countries best through a variety of genres. On November 12th, the Oh Yeah Centre will play host to the official Scratch My Progress EP, featuring tunes from each act. To ensure you don't miss the next generation, Encore NI have provided a run down of each act and why you shouldn't miss this unique line-up.

Band: R51
Genre: Alt-Rock
Download: Slowhound, Skelf, Boxkite
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Once known as The Beast Of The R51 Broadcast, the mysterious R51's unique brand of alt-rock is as certain to amaze as it is to have you headbanging. A combination of front-woman Melyssa Shannon's Kate Bush-like lucid vocal and Jonny Woods stunning guitar soundscapes create the haze with which this band will draw you in.

Band: Hurdles
Genre: Indie-Rock
Download: France (new single ~ out soon!), Paper Soldiers, Ruthless
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The emerging faces of NI indie since their emergence last year, Hurdles have proved a breath of fresh air and then some. The release of their superb debut EP 'Where To Start' reinforced their importance (particularly after General Fiasco's sad disintegration) and followed a heroic gigging schedule. Now with a new guitarist and a fresh, groove inspired sound, Hurdles next release is expected to be their best.

Band: Hot Cops
Genre: Indie/Punk
Download: Another Teen Age (EP)
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Encore NI has already made multiple comments on the potential of this particular band. We've made no secret of our excitement and the praise heaped on their debut EP 'Another Teen Age' speaks for itself. Go see them.

Artist: Matthew Duly
Genre: Acoustic
Download: Locked Inside, Ghost In Your Memory, Different Colours
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Being the only solo singer-songwriter in the scheme may bring a certain degree of pressure for Whitehead's Matty Duly. If this is indeed the case, he's not shown it. With a beautifully weathered voice and finely tuned setlist, Duly's songwriting bursts with the kind of raw emotion necessary to win over any audience. He proved that himself, performing at our own Modern life Is Rubbish in September. His voice and demeanor also bear more than a passing resemblance to The Shin's James Mercer, a rare and impressive accolade.

Band: Serotonin
Genre: Alt-Rock/Grunge
Download: Cold Coffee, Peel (Another new single ~ out soon!), Cleanse Me
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Modern Life Is Rubbish  headliners Serotonin are another band regularly praised by the local press. Their stunning live shows and unpredictability remain their strong-points, though front-woman Lucy Loane's fierce vocals and powerful stage presence, also ensure their army of fans, never go home disappointed.

Don't miss the chance to catch this one off gig | Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast // November 12th, 8pm.

We'll be there!

Taylor Johnson

*We are of course, not for one second prepared to undermine the 'Little Solidarity Movement' of the mid 2000's ~ A Plastic Rose, Fighting With Wire, ASIWYFA...

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