top 20 tracks of 2015 // part 2

by 15:29

Finishing off our top ten, these are the songs we felt best encapsulated 2015.

It was a year of spectacular highs with our involvement with Spectrum Festival and VC Records, the discovery of many fantastic young artists and some of the most memorable gigs we've experienced to date.

A massive thank you to everyone who has supported the website and what we do.

Here's to 2016!

Taylor Johnson
Encore NI

10. In An Instant ~ 'Come The Night'
For fans of ~ U2, Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay

Before Gary Lightbody picked up a guitar and took out his angst on songs like 'Starfighter Pilot', U2 showed the world what could be achieved with singalong melodies and a head full of dreams. On 'Come The Night' Bangor's stalwart indie-pop connoisseur's prove they can handle the same formula, packing hook after hook into this 3 minute belter of a tune.

9. The Remedy ~ 'Live For Today'
For fans of ~ The Rolling Stones, Rodriguez, The Beatles

2015 has proved to be a transitional year for Belfast lads The Remedy; with life-long friend Euan McBride's addition on the bass the band's sound has continued to evolve. Their newest incarnation see's them embracing the dancier elements of bands like The Happy Mondays and Primal Scream, though not on future single 'Live For Today'.  Here we see the band's older influences come to the fore, (particularly that of Sixto Rodriguez) as frontman Joel McCracken's passionate vocal howls under a trumpet led opening. This is 'Different Class' up a gear, and more importantly, another huge anthem for the band. This is undoubtedly a huge year for them.

8. Aaron Shanley ~ Frightening
For fans of ~ Ben Kweller, Bright Eyes

In truth, we could have picked any song from songwriter Aaron Shanley's most recent low-fi record 'Metal Alligator'. Here we see Shanley's poetry stretched over a shimmering soundscape, seemingly without boundaries. Easily the most inventive album of the year, 'Metal Alligator's total faith lives in constant doubt. There is light in the dark, and hope in oblivion. "This is fucking frightening, not in a bad way, honest..."

7. Tour Alaska ~ 'Old Grass Tennis Court'
For fans of ~ Iain Archer, Sufjan Stevens, The Reindeer Collective
Facebook ~ n/a

A poetic tale recounting his time living in Edinburgh, 'Old Grass Tennis Court' is the delicate jewel in Tour Alaska's acoustic crown. The solo project of A Plastic Rose frontman Gerry Norman, Tour Alaska is a chance for fans to delve back into the emotional tides of songs like 'Sun's A Shadow', 'Garavogue' and 'Indian Sheets' and we can't wait for more next year.

6. Junk Drawer ~ 'Buying Pictures (For The Frame)'
For fans of ~ Pixies, Weezer

Slow dancing between the boundaries of grunge and slacker rock, Belfast's Junk Drawer are one of the most complete young band's in recent memory. Debut release 'Buying Pictures (For The Frame)'s Pixies-esque bass bends, walls of feedback and dead-pan choir outro immediately marked them out as a band with something to say, and with each listen we heard more and more. Effortlessly brilliant, sad-tinged pop; their self loathing debut was worth the wait (mostly).

5. The Couth ~ 'Pretty Lady'
For fans of ~ The Strokes, FIDLAR, The Beach Boys

In taking the 60's swing of classic groups such as The Beach Boys and throwing it into the 21st century, The Couth have crafted a sound quite unlike any other today in Northern Ireland. Built around fast paced, Ramones influenced guitar, this anthemic track was the high point of their excellent 'Friday Night Fever' Ep. 

4. Robocobra Quartet ~ '80-88'
For fans of ~ Self Defense Family, Sun Kil Moon

The most original band to emerge from the UK in years, Robocobra Quartet's own brand of thunder-jazz-punk is as explosive as it sounds. This penultimate tale from their 'Bomber' EP is another piece of genius.

3. Little Arcadia ~ 'Anywhere Else'
For fans of ~ General Fiasco, More Than Conquerors

Undoubtedly the North Coast's most exciting prospects, 'Anywhere Else' is the triumphant high point of an excellent Ep from the lads. Complete with one of the most pulsating chorus' of the year, 'Anywhere Else' is a song which demands your attention, and will hopefully get all it deserves next year.

2. Hot Cops ~ 'Decay'
For fans of ~ Nirvana

The stand out band of 2015, Hot Cops are also probably the best young band in Britain today. This track, 50% of a double-a side release 8 months ago, is their best so far. They will have better songs out next year and will continue to get better and better, and then better again.

1. R51 ~ 'Pillow Talk'
For fans of ~ Smashing Pumpkins, Kate Bush

Coming in at number 1 we have R51, who managed to take us all with them to their woozy, underwater-dream world last March via Pillow Talk. In a year which saw them take to the stage at Reading and Leeds Festival, the Mandela Hall and pretty much every other cool gig in 2015, the band already have plans of a follow up release. They'll do well to top this instantly nostalgic track, which see's Melyssa Shannon's shimmering vocals rise above her bands triumphant noise.

"Do you dream of me ever?"

Taylor Johnson

top 20 tracks of 2015 // part 1

by 17:14

In a year which saw us help launch a brand new record label in Belfast, a host of successful local gigs and the spirit of punk injected back into Northern Ireland via Serotonin's now infamous outdoor performance, it comes that time again to celebrate this years musical soundscape!

As always, it's been incredibly difficult to choose only twenty tracks from the array of wonderful releases. Here at Encore NI, our ethos has always been about encouraging new talent, and so we hope our list rightfully shines a light on not only the established artists of our music scene, but the unsung heroes as well!

The only rule we've enforced this year is that no band or artist could feature more than once; and while we would never claim this list to be anything more than opinion, we hope you find a new artist to love and follow into the new year!

& So without further ado, we begin with...

20. Fox Colony ~ 'Headphones'
For fans of ~ The Front Bottoms. Joshua Burnside, Billy Bragg

For newly formed trio 'Fox Colony' life has proven pretty smooth so far. The brainchild of poet-come-frontman Darren Hill, this hidden gem came courtesy of the songwriter's 'Hand of a Wolf' EP, a record evoking the cut-throat clever lyricism of The Front Bottom's Brian Sella, mixed with the intoxicating instrumentation of Joshua Burnside. A definite candidate for my favorite lyrics of the year, ("what about America? Thought that you were gonna move, I thought you hated it here? But you just get high in your boyfriend's bedroom") Fox Colony look set to be everyone's favorite folk-punks next door in 2016.

19. Young G ~ 'Say Something Flow'
For fans of ~ Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar

It's been a great year for twenty year old Gershom Kaoma. Having finally put the finishing touches on his debut mixtape 'Method to the Madness', the Belfast rapper staked his claim to the city's rap crown with a blistering performance at the launch of this year's 'Volume Control Records' album party. This remix showcases Kaoma's command of the microphone beautifully, as he allows his natural wit to flow like there's no tomorrow.

18. Charlie Loane ~ 'Inside Out'
For fans of ~ The Emotions, Otis Redding, Amy Winehouse
Facebook ~ n/a

Though we're more accustomed to witnessing Charlie Loane singing over screaming punk guitars in his native Serotonin, this change of pace from the lyricist offered a stripped back insight into just how good a singer he really is. Channeling the classic soul of Otis Redding or The Emotions, this chilled effort proved one of the year's most welcomed surprises.

17. Dillon Templeton ~ 'Happie.'
For fans of ~ Brand New, The 1975, The Cure

This rain-splashed track from the Little Arcadia guitarist has proved one of the most instantly heartbreaking of the year. Dripping in emotion, Templeton's simple prose leaves a lasting impression from the very first listen. A very special song.

16. Sister Ghost ~ 'Growing Pains'
For fans of ~ Hole, Bitch Falcon, Sonic Youth

Championed by RTE, Across The Line and many others, Sister Ghost has proved one of this year's biggest success stories. This pile-driving 90's tinged punk anthem evokes strong Sonic Youth vibes, complete with haunting breakdown...

15. Echo Raptors ~ 'Believe In Love'
For fans of ~ Cast, Oasis, The Verve

A step away from their usual pile-driving style, this beautiful ballad from Belfast's Echo Raptor's showed off the emotional side songs like 'Change My Way' only alluded to. Complete with piano and a wonderful performance from Vince Caddell on lead guitar, 'Believe In Love' is easily up there with the bands best work to date.

14. Stonemasons ~ 'How To Fix Everything' 
For fans of ~ Radiohead, ASIWYFA, Rise Against

Cocooned within a sea of distortion, Belfast's Stonemasons have written possibly the most uplifting song of the year. This closing track to their 'Lost Layers' EP starts pretty heavy, with driving bass and thunderous drumming; before building to a crescendo of the highest order. It's a sonic journey ~ you have to go there to get back, and then go again. With the dust onbly now beginning to settle on this year's memorable Russian tour, we're sure they'll have a few more stories to tell in 2016...

13. SALAD BOYZ ~ Dreams
For fans of ~ The Presidents of the United States Of America, FIDLAR, Weezer

Making it to the final of The Pavilion's famous Battle of the Bands after only months together should tell you all you need to know about Belfast's newest grunge-punks SALAD BOYZ ~ and yet it totally doesn't. Fronted by the ever charismatic Tommy Haghighi, these boyz' mix of sweet, tuneful melodies and heavy guitars mark them out as one of Belfast's most exciting and original new bands. This particular song, though not yet released, is their best to date. All hail the Sal-lord, SALAD BOYZ are here for the duration.

12. Pleasure Beach ~ 'Dreamer To The Dawn'
For fans of ~ Arcade Fire, CHVRCHES, M83

Born out of the ashes of Yes Cadets, Pleasure Beach's rise from the rehearsal room to this islands biggest stages has been swift and deserving. Encompassing all the best qualities of the 1980's with a contemporary twist, Pleasure Beach have the style and sound to make 2016 their own ~ with this, the title track from their debut EP, their signature tune.

11. Shadow Police ~ 'Sleep Tonight'
For fans of ~ New Order, Kavinsky

This gorgeous track from the Belfast synth-pop duo has paved the way for their great beginnings this year. Following successful slots at both Barn Fest and the VC Records album launch, Shadow Police's fan base i now shared between the capital and the North Coast ~ expect them to build on that in 2016.

Part two coming soon!  

Taylor Johnson

news ~ a northern light announce christmas show

by 06:35

Following on from the awesome news that their debut album 'Kingdoms' has finally been recorded, Belfast's A Northern Light have announced a huge Christmas gig next Thursday in White's Tavern, Belfast.

Having been out of action for much of the year recording their debut, the chances to see A Northern Light have been few and far between, making this gig an unmissable event. Support on the night comes from the mammoth noise of R51 and the delicate laments of singer-songwriter Kris Marsden.

To top things off, the band must surly be in the running for gig poster of the year with this effort...!

[Doors 9pm / Admission £5.]
Taylor Johnson

volume control records album launch party ~ a summary

by 05:21

It was a night steeped in expectation, excitement and fresh hope last Friday night in Belfast's Oh Yeah Music Centre, as we helped to celebrate the official launch of Volume Control Records!

On the night a selection of acts from the label's first ever compilation album (available to buy from the Oh Yeah Centre) played to a large crowd not put off by the eclectic mix of genres on show; on the contrary, the melting pot of sounds on offer acted as the catalyst for one of the most openly celebratory gigs of the year.

Opening proceedings came the effortless cool of synth-pop duo Shadow Police. After a brief break from the touring circuit the two-piece's return to the stage proved a welcome one, with an arsenal of new material at their disposal. Opening with a catchy new instrumental piece, the band's set flowed between their New Order inspired roots, to 'New Gold Dream' era Simple Minds. With a sound so clearly inspired by that golden era of UK pop music, lesser band's may be forgiven for creating a homage, rather than a stand alone back-catalog of their own. For Shadow Police, that will never be a concern, as between frontman Matty Duly's distinctive, alluring vocals and guitarist Daniel Thorton's creative soundscapes, this band will continue to push boundaries.

For former 'Project Sound' frontman Gershom Kaoma, tonight's gig held a special significance. Not only was this his first gig in Belfast, but it was also his debut under new alias 'Young G' as he performed tracks from his upcoming mix tape 'Method To The Madness'. Diving headfirst into an exhilarating set, Young G's fast paced flow and punchy lyricism at times echoed controversial rap-heavyweight Kanye West, at others, the more reserved witticism's of The Streets Mike Skinner. Joined on the night by Volume Control Record's own Andy Black on the decks, it was a grand entrance for the man heavily tipped to shake up the Northern Irish hip-hop scene. Highlight of the set was undoubtedly new single 'It's On Now', (which includes the genius line 'never hold my head in shame, lyrics, bullets Kurt Cobain') met with a rapturous reception by the crowd.

From one Belfast debut, to a grand Belfast return, as local lads The Remedy took to the stage. Another swift departure from the previous act stylistically, but never in danger of letting the high standards of the night drop. This was a performance of real intent from a four-piece missing their heart-beat, as drummer Chris Hanna was forced to watch from the crowd after sustaining an injury in the build up to the gig.

 Opening with a brand new tune after any hiatus can be a risky move, but in future single 'Live For Today' The Remedy have a special song indeed. In a set overflowing with melody, orchestral interludes and rich vocals all around, The Remedy showed that their long-awaited debut EP (due for release next year) will be one certainly worth waiting for. Dipping momentarily back into their history for the pile-driving 'I Am The One', the band then finished on their debut single 'Different Class', which continues to remain a firm highlight.

"We're Little Arcadia and we're from the North Coast!"

For a band as young as Little Arcadia, pulling the crowd they did into The Oh Yeah Centre on it's own must be considered a significant achievement. Already established in their native Coleraine as one of the most exhilarating live bands in the country, this was only their second ever gig in the capital; and as introductions go, few can be as exciting as this. Playing a set molded from their five year-long history, songs like 'FUQ' and 'Fox Polar' showcased their heavier edges, grabbing more than one comparison to a young More Than Conquerors. On the other end of the spectrum, tracks like the dance-evoking 'Monday' brought back memories of General Fiasco at their peak. Culminating in the rowsing 'Anywhere Else' (a sing-along favorite) it wont be too long before Belfast comes calling for Little Arcadia once more.

Wearing their trademark 'Homemade Salad' tee-shirts, Belfast's SALAD BOYZ blitzed their way through a tight, punk driven set at the top of our album launch bill. The 'Guinness Battle of the Bands' finalists high energy and melodic-alternative rock had the crowd bouncing, whilst songs like the stunningly beautiful 'Dreams' showed their more emotional side. The huge cheer which accompanied frontman Tommy Haghighi's introduction for 'T-4-2' ("This song is on the album, people seem to like it") showed just how much this young band have been embraced by the city. Finishing on a request for old favorite 'Balls', it was a poignant and appropriate ending to the birth of a record label determined to give something back to Belfast.

It's something we at Encore NI are very grateful to be a part of.

Taylor Johnson 

Find all the bands featured on the album below!

Little Arcadia 
The Remedy
Young G
Jealous of the Birds
Maeve McPherson
Shadow Police
The Bayonettes

track review ~ 'sad songs' ~ january

by 04:30

Name: January
Genre: Alt-Emo
For Fans Of: Weezer, Yuck, Mooseblood
Location: Belfast

Three piece alternative-emo outfit January's debut offering is very exciting indeed. Taking influence from the likes of Modern Baseball, here we see a band built upon witty, honest lyricism, a raw guitar sound and pure 3am on a cold, winters morning nostalgia. January could be a perfect compliment to the likes of Junk Drawer and Hot Cops, who are slowly carving out their own emo scene.

For those who grew up on Weezer's blue album, there's a lot to get into here. It's bleak as hell, but in a really good way.

Taylor Johnson

vc records ~ volume 1 .

by 09:55

In no particular order, here are the eight chosen tracks for the debut Volume Control Records album!

#1. The Remedy ~ 'Different Class'

Music and Lyrics by The Remedy

The story of Belfast lads The Remedy is a fascinating tale, and one practically already in Belfast folklore. Formed by three school mates sometime around 2011, the band's earliest days consisted of countless jam sessions in lead guitarist Daniel Donaghy's attic and listening to the indie gospel of Oasis. Inspired, they began writing their own tunes and very quickly immersed themselves in Belfast's gigging scene, despite their young age. Slowly, the band built up a large following as they began supporting the likes of Echo Raptors, The Late Twos and The Couth, to name a few. Then, after one fateful trip to Sunflower Fest, their style began evolving to include trumpets and groove to their bedrock indie, a unique formula. It proved to be a good move! All this  resulted in the release of their debut single 'Different Class', a huge anthem which got them radio airplay all across Belfast and expanded their fan base further. Now gearing up for their long-awaited debut Ep, the time looks and feels right for this excellent band.

#2. Jealous of the Birds ~ 'Goji Berry Sunset'

Music & Lyrics by Naomi Hamilton

Dripping in sweetness, 'Goji Berry Sunset' was 18 year old bedroom musician Naomi Hamilton's introduction to the world of the recording artist. As first impressions go, it's near flawless, as a host of radio play, gig opportunities and kind words can attest to. Having swooned her way out of her native Portadown and into Belfast hearts, Hamilton need not be jealous for too much longer; watch this very special talent take flight in 2016.

#3. SALAD BOYZ ~ 'T-4-2'

Music by SALAD BOYZ, Lyrics by Tommy Haghighi

Sharing a love of 90's noise-rock, friendship and captivating lyricism, there may not be a single band quite like SALAD BOYZ anywhere in Britain or Ireland today. Emerging earlier this year, the four piece take the punk roots of their home city and add a timelessly melodic flavor to proceedings, culminating in the sort of explosive live shows long thought left behind in 'the good ol' days'. 'T-4-2' is the sensitive jewel in their ever expanding crown, complete with beautifully intricate guitar lines and a massive chorus. A band already steeped in history (check out their Facebook profile for more on that...), SALAD BOYZ are one band guaranteed to never sell out.

#4. Young G ~ 'It's On Now'

Music and Lyrics by Young G

'Young G', aka Gershom Kaoma, is a musician living off pure perseverance. Growing up in the small town of Ballyclare, his first foray into the world of rap came through a series of home made bedroom tapes, where he plied his trade through an avalanche of lyrics. After honing his flow down to a tee, he then moved on to forming his first band 'The Project Sound', a three piece hip-hop group made up of The Sea, Close By's Alastair Greyson and producer Andy Christie. Hugely promising singles followed, as well as the awesome 'Nude Street' Ep, but unfortunately for Kaoma, University saw the band part ways. After a self-set hiatus of songwriting and fine-tuning his art, Young G is now ready to revitalize the Northern Irish rap scene. Work on his debut solo mix-tape 'Method To The Madness' has just been completed, and with it this first monster of a single.

#5. Shadow Police ~ 'Sleep Tonight'

Music and Lyrics by Shadow Police

Matthew Duly is no stranger to the stage. A graduate of the Oh Yeah Centre's 'Scratch My Progress' talent programme, the young songwriter has won over countless audiences over the years with his huge voice and tender lyrics. Now, having ditched the glam-rock noise of previous band 'Lipstick Lizards', Duly finds himself on the frontline armed only with a synth and a microphone in new band Shadow Police. An electronic two piece reminiscent of New Order, Shadow Police have already amassed an impressive list of accomplishments so far. Having rocked Barnfest, Stendhal Festival and some of the countries top gig nights, it won't be long before they take their electronic harmonies far from these shores. 'Sleep Tonight' is their first single, and what a start it is.

#6. Little Arcadia ~ 'Anywhere Else'

Music by Little Arcadia, Lyrics by Eunan Brown

An anthemic call to arms, this title track from Coleraine four piece Little Arcadia's latest EP is proof that the weight of expectation on a band isn't necessarily always a bad thing. Now into their fourth year together, 'Anywhere Else', with it's hooky verses and punky guitar tones, show just how far this young group have come since their early days on electronic drum-kits. Having conquered the vast majority of the North Coasts stomping grounds over the years, 2016 may be the year we see them finally take Belfast by storm. Taking influence from ASIWYFA and General Fiasco, we see no reason why they won't!

#7. Maeve McPherson ~ 'Drugstore Dream Girl'

Music and Lyrics by Maeve McPherson

Maeve McPherson is the wide eyed, bedroom dreamer from your favorite teenage fiction novel and she makes no apologies for it. Armed with an abundance of intoxicating lyrics, her melodically crafted pop songs fall somewhere between Kate Bush and Ellen Page in the movie 'Juno', charming, honest and warm. Still a member of the Underground Club, 2016 should see Maeve McPherson really push on, and not a moment too soon.

#8. The Bayonettes ~ '2 Miles For Me Is 1000 For You'

Music by The Bayonettes, Lyrics by Danny McClelland

North Coast representatives The Bayonettes thrive off a good story, a trait personified by their frontman Danny Clelland. 2014's 'Post-Kiss' Ep was a lyrical triumph, taking on the tricky concept album with total ease.  Latest single '2 Miles For Me...' takes things a step further, as the band really begin to capture their own unique sound. Distorted guitars, anthemic chorus' and wanderlust lyrics; The Bayonettes have found themselves within this single.

More info and an events page coming soon via Volume Control!

Taylor Johnson

news ~ records

by 09:54

Hi guys! 

Today we've some incredible news we've been dying to announce for some time now.

From our inception back in 2013 Encore NI  has always strived to do everything we can to help the Northern Irish music scene and the artists which make it so special. Along the way we've met some incredible other people who share our philosophy ('Through The Wall' on Blast 106, Hidden Machine Promotions, Across The Line on Radio Ulster, the Spectrum Festival team etc...) and who we have had the pleasure of working alongside. We are proud to announce that we can now add the wonderful Volume Control team to this list! Together we are teaming up to help shape 'Volume Control Records', a non-profitable record label designed to help push local artists on even further.

After an incredibly difficult selection process, we have chosen eight emerging local acts to submit tracks which will form our very first compilation record. This will of course mean a physical and digital release and as big a promotional push as possible to go alongside it!

The purpose of VC Records is to shine a light on these hugely talented artists and get their music heard. If you feel you can help in any way with promoting the album, either through radio play, reviews, blog posts or simply social media support, it would be massively appreciated by the VC Records team and the artists themselves.

We will now reveal the eight chosen track and a little about them...

Thanks for your support!


Encore NI//Volume Control Records

track of the week ~ 'come the night' ~ in an instant

by 05:43

After eighteen long years of touring the world, U2 ~  Ireland's Beatles and pop-record breakers supreme ~ finally returned to Belfast last week.

They blasted their way through a set spanning three decades, captivating an audience who have, quite literally, grown up with their music. One such example stood loyally in the front row, engrossed by the sight and sound of the biggest band in the world; his name is Mark Hegan, and as the frontman of Bangor's beloved In An Instant the idea of one day taking to the famous Odyssey Arena* must be ever-present. For the band themselves, their own absence from the stage must no doubt feel like eighteen years! After extensive touring for their debut EP 'Light You Know and Love', the band took some time out to regroup, relax and attempt the follow up to one of 2014's most highly acclaimed local records...

For any band's with an electronic edge, finding a distinct sound can be more difficult than you might think. Somehow In An Instant have found their voice within the synths. Be this through Mark Hegan's driving rhythm guitar work (which sounds punchier than ever before here, we might add) or the band's total devotion to a strong melody remains open for debate; what isn't, however is the undeniable quality of this 21st century pop song.

Part of the reason In An Instant's debut caught so many off guard was the feel-good nature of most of the tracks. Even those swimming in melancholy, where Hegan sounded close to combustion, retained a dance like-element. A quick look around some of the UK's biggest charting bands and you'll see evidence of this formula everywhere; The Cure ~ 'Just Like Heaven', The 1975 ~ 'Sex', anything by Morrissey etc, etc. None of these you'd call joyous anthems, yet if they came on in a club you'd no doubt see a full dancefloor and in 'Come The Night' that special element is greater than ever before.

Whilst the band continue to carve out their own path stylistically, there's no denying the huge stadium rock elements that continue to grow on every release. Guitarist Ryan Davison's riff's here sparkle like Coldplay's Jonny Buckland, whilst the slow-down's in the second verse add weight to Hegan's emotional lyricism.

It was never going to be easy following 'A Light You Know and Love', yet here we are again.

To paraphrase their frontman, 'Come The Night' is not just alright, it's pretty damn beautiful.

Taylor Johnson

* or SSE, if you're into that sort of thing.

news: pleasure beach debut new video for 'go'

by 03:12

Belfast dreamers Pleasure Beach have recorded a new video for single 'Go' and it's the perfect compliment to their melodic soundscapes.

Recorded earlier this year, 'Go' remains the focal point of a band who's meteoric rise across the country shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Taken from their new EP 'Dreamer To The Dawn' , you can check out what we had to say about the single here & watch the music video below⁞►

Pleasure Beach will support The Vaccines in The Limelight 1, December 9th
Taylor Johnson

news ~ the late twos announce annual christmas show

by 03:40

Belfast's favorite indie-pop collective will return to The Longfellow Bar in East Belfast this December for their annual Christmas gig. 

The Matty Legge fronted five piece, who will release crowd favorite 'Sierra Leone' as their next single in the new year, have used the night in the past as an opportunity to help break younger Belfast bands to a new audience. This includes indie-ska rascals The Remedy, the alt-rock stylings of Paper Man (now The Sea, Close By) and The Left Backs; adding to the list this year our local lads Buffalo's Bay, a young psychedelic-inspired band which includes Modern Life Is Rubbish veteran Andy Bell on vocals.

After another year of astonishing success for the band, which has seen them undergo yet more successive touring, plus support slots with Vant and The Bohicas, this years Christmas show promises to be the best yet...even if many questions still remain.

For example...will bassist Ryan Costley have his own personalised Northern Irish football Christmas jumper?

How much Buckfast can one band truly consume?

& finally, will television chef Ainsley Harriot really be making a brief, if eventful, cameo appearance during 'Never Mind'?

Only time will tell...

Taylor Johnson

the uk blog sound of 2016

by 05:29

The exciting times just keep coming for us here at Encore NI, and today we are proud to announce that we have been asked to take part in 'The UK Blog Sound of 2016' poll!

Alongside Chordblossom and The Metaphorical Boat, we have been asked to select the three best acts emerging from the UK this year, in an exclusive poll set up by some of the biggest music blogs in Britain. Last year the poll was picked up by producers from BBC Radio 1, music journalists at The Guardian and hundreds of major music publications across UK; so the opportunities are there for the most successful acts.

Naturally, we feel the best music around today is right here in Northern Ireland, so who do you feel we should vote for? Let us know on Facebook here, or Twitter here, using the hashtag #blogsoundof2016.

Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'growing pains' ~ sister ghost

by 04:43

If we know anything about Shannon O'Neill at this stage, it's that she doesn't care what you think.

Rarely will you find an artist in this technologically suffocating world so steadfast in this attitude. Opinions are everywhere and the internet have created a new space for them to occupy they didn't before. The fact that the overwhelming opinion of Shannon's hard working alter ego 'Sister Ghost' is one of high praise and excitement, matters little. You feel all she cares about is the sound, and based on new single  'Growing Pains' it's a philosophy that's serving her very well indeed.

Still maintaining that Sonic Youth fuzz from her earliest work, 'Growing Pains' is an ode to the death of childhood and realities of adult-life. There's sprinklings of Johnny Marr on the guitar work, whilst the breakdown and spoken word interludes give things a real haunted 90's vibe. Throughout, O'Neill sounds confident and fierce.

Having successfully captured Sister Ghost's energy here, the live potential of this track is bursting from the seams; more of the same please, Sister.

Taylor Johnson

news; sound of belfast make waves across the capital

by 03:27
For some time now, Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre has worked tirelessly to remain the epicenter of the music industry for young people, and those trying to find their place within it. Be that in the beautifully maintained rehearsal rooms, the various recording studios and labels or indeed on stage, whatever you're into, the Oh Yeah Centre will support you.

For 'Sound of Belfast' month this year, the Oh Yeah Centre (alongside the dedicated Volume Control team) has been running various events to encourage young people's interest in the industry, starting with 'Signed and Delivered', a competition ran by The National Skills Academy. Here groups from Belfast Metropolitan College and the North West  Regional College were brought together to manage the career of Shannon O'Neill, aka 'Sister Ghost'; planning out everything from her debut single, right up to a full album launch, via the Glastonbury Introducing stage.

Sister Ghost will perform at the Scratch My Progress album launch this Thursday in the Oh Yeah Centre...

Mentored and guided by a panel of industry experts which included the likes of Davy Matchett of Third Bar Management, Jeff Robinson of Jeff Robinson PR and (incredibly) our very own Taylor Johnson, each team then created and developed their own presentations to pitch to the artist herself, as well as the Oh Yeah's CEO Stuart Bailie.

After two detailed and enthusiastic pitches, a draw was declared, with Stuart claiming that "If Shannon could sign to both of your labels, she would!". 

This strong start to the week continued yesterday, as BBC Radio Ulster's Peter Cinnamond then stepped in to brilliantly compère the Oh Yeah's 'Breaking into Music Conference', a day filled with Q&A's with yet more industry professional's (including representatives from Island Records & Smalltown America), a personal tour of the building and live sets from Connor Scott, Gemma Bradley and Volume Control Team DJ's. 

Attracting a huge crowd, it was inspiring to see so many young people leaving with not only a greater understanding of the music business, but a greater belief in it to.  

As summed up by Stuart Bailie, "Anyone who tells you the music industry is on its way out is completely wrong".

If a little solidarity goes a long way, imagine just how far this week will take us? Exciting times!

Continuing to inspire...The  Oh Yeah Centre's CEO Stuart Bailie
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