autumn/winter round up

Due to an incredibly hectic schedule of gigs, meetings and various radio projects, it's been totally full on here at Encore NI over the last few weeks! As a result here's a concise round-up of everything that's been taking place in and around Belfast for you, complete with reviews!

1. The Sass release new EP 'Be Free'

A lot has been written about Belfast lads The Sass. Forced to change their line-up multiple times and forced into a sporadic gigging schedule that had halted their progression somewhat, the 60's inspired outfit are now reaping the benefits of consistency, as new EP 'Be Free' beautifully demonstrates. Marking a definite progression, both stylistically and lyrically, The Sass have graduated from the surf-pop melodies of singles gone by to a more mature sound, reverberated riffs now working in sync with their jangling guitar persona. Frontman Colm Donnelly has also never sounded better; be this down to his delight at the bands evolution from their humble beginnings, or simply a boost in confidence is hard to say, but whatever it is, it's working. 'Be Free' is a gently swaying, maudlin take on 21st century love and life, the Morrissey inspired 'Lucy' the gem in the crown. In fact, it may be worth mentioning that the French verses in Lucy are perhaps Donnelly's finest to date. Lyrically breaking new ground, only Damien Rice has attempted such a feat in recent years. Exciting times.

2. Loris release video for new single 'Yeah'

After a near sell out EP launch in The Bar With No Name, electro-pop trio Loris unveiled the video to title track 'Yeah' yesterday. Showing a clear progression from their early days, the band have proven their ability to maintain the sparse production of earlier singles, while adding new flavors to the mix. For one thing, it's darker, hinting at a hidden aggression previously buried under an avalanche of synths. Francis Mitchell's vocals are also sounding more assured, as Loris continue to grow into their own niche on the electronic spectrum.

3. His New Atlas completes English tour

The brainchild of singer-songwriter Eoghan O'Hagan has been threatening to blow up on the big stage for a while now, the Armagh native's recent English tour reinforcing this fact. Riding off the back of his massive sounding 'Torn Out Lungs' EP, (a record of great depth) O'Hagan took his band on the road for a three date tour of the countries capital and Liverpool, playing to great crowds and continuing to forge his hard earned reputation across the water. Now back in Belfast, don't be surprised to see His New Atlas play bigger and better venues as his stock price rises.

4. Gary Lightbody & The Assembly ~ 'This Is All That I Ask Of You'

Who else but Gary Lightbody would assemble a band of some of the most promising musicians in Northern Ireland, to write and perform a one off acoustic ballad for charity? 'This Is All That I Ask Of You', see's the Snow Patrol front man duet with the likes of Ryan & Eimear of Wonder Villains fame, SOAK, Sillouette and David C Clements in a track much more in the mold of his side project Tired Pony than the indie anthems he's known for. A track based around the bands obvious vocal talents, each melody has been carefully crafted, resulting in a stunning live performance in the heart of Stormont. Now on sale for 99p, all money earned from the songs release will go towards The Northern Ireland Music Therapy Trust. For further information head to Snow Patrol's official website.

Taylor Johnson

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