single review ~ 'pilgrim' ~ son of the hound

by 14:49

Singer/songwriter Michael McCullagh is a rolling stone. Forever in motion, constantly evolving, his latest effort under the new name 'Son of the Hound' may be the release which see's his restless heart finally tamed, as 'Pilgrim's soft western-tinged folk seems to fit him perfectly.

Gently morphing evocative guitar sounds with classic melody, it's the sort of journeyman's tale McCullagh has crafted many times over the years in his different guises, but this one feels different. Indeed, with it's incredibly catchy whistling refrain and gently overlapping piano, it looks and feels like Son Of The Hound was meant to be. Is 'Pilgrim' an ode to the tireless work ethic of this nation's unsigned artists? If it's not, it could certainly be adopted as an anthem for the believers; "I'm a pilgrim, I walk this lonely road...and as long as my heart beats in my chest, I will go where it takes me, before I'm lay to rest."

Grown up folk-pop at it's absolute best, 'Pilgrim' could be straight out of Bruce Springsteen's classic "We Shall Overcome; The Seeger Sessions" record. A fine follow up to Southpaw Niños.

Taylor Johnson

news ~ volume control's clash of the new breeds 2015

by 03:30

The Volume Control team are back again with another line-up of fresh new talent from across Northern Ireland. Tonight marks the third incarnation of Clash Of The New Breeds, a competition which see's new breakthrough talent playing for the chance to win some incredible opportunities, all in the company of some of Belfast's most important music personalities.

On the judging panel we have Hidden Machine's dynamic managing director and founder, Nikki MacRae, BBC Radio Ulster and Mirador's  very own Peter Cinnamond & Mojo Fury's (amongst many others!) Mike Mormecha. There will also be an audience vote, meaning every single person is vital!

Events kick off at 7pm tonight, in Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre ~ don't miss it!

Full finalists shortlist below...

Taylor Johnson

The Bayonettes
The Flims
Common Ground
High Sundays
10 Glass
Conjecture 42

throwback ~ colenso parade

by 06:50

Name: Colenso Parade
Genre: Indie-Pop
For Fans Of: The Late Twos, The Beach Boys
Location: Belfast/Omagh

Formed sometime around 2006-2007, the wonderfully named 'Colenso Parade' came to prominence at the crest of a wave which would eventually become Belfast's 'Little Solidarity' movement. Just as General Fiasco, And So I Watch You From Afar, Fighting With Wire and the like began their rapid ascents into the hearts and minds of the city, four lads with acoustic guitars and a love of all things harmonic captured exactly what it was that made that time so special...

Colenso's story originates from nothing more than four school mates hanging out on lazy afternoons and playing music long into the night. Growing up in Omagh, frontman Fergal Lindsay would later tell AU Magazine that, "we just didn't have anything better to do!", and a good thing to, as it is here the band would lay the foundations for what was to come further down the line. For now however, with the slight obstacle of the education system to consider, these first few years were spent writing, growing up and dreaming of what might be.

brothers in arms...and suits

 Fast forward a few years and things are changing for the band. The call of the city has proved too strong and soon Omagh's grasp is loosened, as University looms. It is here that the band's songwriting partnership really begins to bloom, as Fergal and lead guitarist Mickey McCullagh begin taking their craft more seriously. The future of the group is then sealed when the duo move into their new homes, complete with a connecting side street called, you guessed it, Colenso Parade.

Now with their new name and new attitude, the band's sound starts to evolve. The harmonies grow bolder, the influence of classic songwriters like the Everly Brothers and The Beach Boys now beginning to shine through. Songs like 'Don't Mind The Weather' with it's breezy melodies and shimmering guitar work, start flowing, as Colenso begin bombarding magazines and radio stations more and more. (Later, bands like The View and The Fratellies would build a hugely successful career off this 60's inspired blue-print)

Eventually that rigorous work ethic paid off, as AU Magazine (for years the top magazine for local music in the country) gave the band a great review of one of their demos. They kicked on, and like all great local bands soon gathered a loyal following, boosted by their new found notoriety across Belfast. Air play on Across The Line, The Late Show with Stuart Bailie and even Radio 1 followed, as Colenso Parade became one of the biggest bands in Northern Ireland.

Colenso Parade supporting A Plastic Rose in The Limelight
After over five years together, hundreds of shows and a huge amount of memories, Colenso Parade disbanded around 2011. What started with four lads crammed into a garden shed, had ended with a real legacy. Lead guitarist Mickey McCullagh remains a part of the Belfast music scene under the name 'Son Of The Hound'. He released his debut solo album 'Southpaw Ninos' last year. It was awesome.  Bassist Philly Taggart also continues to work in music, now giving young bands opportunities, rather than looking for them! He hosts his own show on BBC Radio 1. It is awesome. Bassist Paul 'Melly' Mellon and frontman Fergal Lindsay both remain similarly involved in the music scene.

A source told us; "All the Colenso boys are all still on good terms. I'd say it's unlikely we'll get another reunion anytime soon, but you never know..."

Taylor Johnson

Son of the Hound will release his new single 'Pilgrim' this Friday.

single review ~ 'LA Dick' ~ abandcalledboy

by 09:18

Name: abandcalledboy
Genre: Alt-Rock
For Fans Of: FIDLAR, Wolf Alice, Rage Against The Machine
Location: Belfast

During the long sorta-hot Summer of 2014, abandcalledboy released a track called 'Cliff Richard'. Here they hailed Cliff as 'the messiah' amongst a barrage of heavy drumming and riffs galore. It was rough, certainly, but within this lay abandcalledboy's charm. They are rough as hell, yet always seem to make it work. Little over a year on and what have these four best friends that anyone can have learned? Well for one thing the importance of a good ol' profile picture. As shown above, the bands brilliant take on the humble stock photo did genuine good for their stance in Belfast. I know it made me give them a second listen, and it was here that my journey back into the lives of  Belfast's noisiest businessmen began...with a look at their latest single, 'LA Dick'.

The first thing we notice about 'LA Dick' is it's driving guitar lines. The bands industrial, almost Krautrock like melodies feel like they've found their place here, as this song swings between a pumped up Kasabian and thundering alt-rock.

Sonically, the band have made mammoth strides forward here. The guitar work is neat, rumbling through the verses, before exploding into that aggressive chorus. It's catchy too, with a FIDLAR like shout thrown in. You can already hear a crowd screaming it back to them, an undoubtedly important element of their live set.

Complete with a remix well worth checking out (props to Keian Roohipour for that one), this must surely be abandcalledboy's best release to date.

Taylor Johnson

'It's a yes from us'

ep review ~ 'treehome ep' ~ treehome

by 11:56

Name: Treehome
Genre: Funk/Soul/Pop
For Fans Of: Robocobra Quartet, Gil Scott-Heron, Rodriguez
Location: Belfast

Treehome is the sound of every cool party your parents/older brother/hip Uncle Sammy never invited you to back in the day. Three young dudes with a soulful grasp of what music should sound like, they fell into the mainstream of Belfast's music scene with their triumphant debut single 'Keep Our Loving Discreet' last year. Now, like a funky Arnold Schwarzenegger, they're back; and armed with a load more groovy tunes to boot.

Opener 'The Very Rude Man', oozes total confidence from the opening guitar strum. Capturing the sound of New York's 60's bohemian scene, Treehome take their time wrapping you up in a song so chilled, it could be one big jam session. There's even room for a break-down of sorts, all trickling lead guitar and a stunning brass section thrown in for good measure.

  'Follow The Lights' takes a similar approach, working off effortlessly brilliant bass lines and frontman Flavelle-Cobain's smooth tones. They stop and start in such perfect harmony, harking back to the great blues musicians of old. The ending refrain also cries out for some audience participation, another of Treehome's strengths. Finisher 'Forbidden Fruit' feels initially quite deep for this upbeat band, nowhere near mournful, but ever so gilted.

'I'm not listening, my head is in the clouds and I'm ready to come down'

They very quickly return to their happy place however, as bass and brass combine to guide this Ep home.

Treehomies of the world, unite and take over. We can't wait to see what this band come up with next!

Taylor Johnson

ni music prize 2015; shortlist announced!

by 15:44

It's that time of year once more, when the good people of Northern Ireland gather to celebrate the best music coming out of this tiny country, and just how far we continue to punch above our weight. Yet again we see an incredibly tight shortlist, with the internationally beloved And So I Watch You From Afar, SOAK and Tim Wheeler all breezing their way into contention. Other strong entries include the beautiful Malojian record 'Southlands' and Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail's stunning ode to the North Coast, 'Sea Legs'.

Having most recently been won by Robyn G Shiels and Foy Vance respectively, could it be time for a rock record to once again scoop NI music's biggest accolade?  Flying the flag for guitar bands is A Plastic Rose, with their massive 'Flickering Light Of An Inner War' and Axis Of, for 'The Mid Brae Inn', another huge sounding album.

Clichéd though it may be, we really can't call this one!

The night (to be held in the Mandela Hall on Friday November 14th) will also feature a special presentation of the Oh Yeah Legend Award to The Divine Comedy, and will see a performance from Neil Hannon himself. 

A list of full nominations below.

Taylor Johnson

A Plastic Rose – Flickering Light of an Inner War

And So I Watch You From Afar – Heirs
Axis Of – The Mid Brae Inn
BeeMickSee – Belfast Yank
Ciaran Lavery and Ryan Vail – Sea Legs
Duke Special – Look Out Machines
The Lost Brothers – New Songs Of Dawn And Dust
Malojian – Southlands
Not Squares – Bolts
SOAK – Before We Forgot How To Dream
Therapy? – Disquiet
Tim Wheeler – Lost Domain

track of the week ~ 'my mind ain't pretty (at the minute)' ~ aaron shanley

by 14:44

Aaron Shanley is like the ocean. Constantly moving, changing, raging. From sullen-pop soliloquy's, to CSI:NY, there's little the Lisburn songwriter hasn't poured his heart over, and yet he always finds more.

"My Mind Ain't Pretty (At The Minute)" see's a rawer guitar sound than ever before for an Aaron Shanley solo track. Long-term fans will point to 'Startled Space Moth', (Shanley's full band, low-fi adventure) , as a reference point here, but what "My Mind Ain't Pretty..." really does is take his punk roots and breathe new life into them.

Part rallying call, part sonic soul-search, just how Aaron Shanley can so easily trip between genres is quite remarkable. The fact that he does it so well is pretty special.

What upcoming record 'Metal Alligator' holds remains a mystery, but if this first glimpse is anything to go by, Shanley's authentic touch and introspective prose is stronger than ever.

Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'mizaru' ~ robocobra quartet

by 02:28

Robocobra Quartet, a band so clearly obsessed with pushing the sonic boundaries of popular music, have done so again with startling ease on this new record. It is an effortless swim through calmer seas, the crime-novel tension of songs like 'Knotweed' replaced by the sound of this four piece in total harmony.

Allow, if you will, your mind to wander alongside 'Mizaru's floating bass line and light drum beats. I see a hip underground bar-come-library, somewhere in New York  City . The year is 1969 and dreams are in short supply. It is here that Chris Ryan and his band of jazz-inspired lovelies gather. They talk of hope and buy everybody drinks. They tell stories late into the night and smoke and joke, and sometimes they don't do anything at all. That is, until the call of the old drum-set in the corner becomes too much. A small crowd gathers in the back of the bar. A copy of Albert Camus' 'The Stranger' is tossed into the air for no reason in particular. The bar tender, a Filipino affectionately nick-named Paulie, starts chanting 'Robo-cobra! Robo-cobra!'. Its the only English he knows and tonight it's enough.

The band pick up their instruments and without even looking at eachother, they launch into 'Mizaru'.

It is brilliant.

Taylor Johnson

gig news ~ refugee's welcome!

by 06:14

This Saturday, at the Oh Yeah Music Centre in Belfast a very special and important gig will be taking place. In aid of the Refugee Crisis which has captured the world's attention, the amazing people at 'Love Music, Hate Racism' have organised a bill of supreme local talent, with all the proceeds going to this great cause.

Usually at this stage in our gig previews we'd take the time to describe each act in detail and why you can't afford to miss out; this time however, we feel the cause for the gig is the most important thing.

On the night the likes of Tour Alaska, Son Of The Hound, Across The Line's Stuart Bailie (DJ Set), Verse Chorus Verse and even Charlie  Loane's new solo project 'Sticky Shadows' will all be playing, and what a wonderful line-up that is. Though for anyone unfamiliar with the acts or local music in general, this is still a great chance to do your part to help people who desperately need it.

All proceeds will go to Medicins Sans Frontieres (Doctors without Borders). They work both inside and outside Syria. They operate worldwide and are a medical foundation that provides healthcare to all who need it in war and humanitarian situations. Since May 2015 they have been running rescue missions to save refugees off the coast of Turkey. 

Any items you feel you could spare to help will also be sent to Calais.

Tickets are £10 for evening/full day
£5 for afternoon only. Children under 12 free. 

Afternoon Doors 12.30pm – 5pm - all ages welcome - first act 1pm.

Evening – 7pm – late (over 18s) licensed bar. (first act 7.30pm)

Oh Yeah Music Centre, 15-21 Gordon Street, Belfast, BT1 2LG

If you're free and want to help, it will be incredibly appreciated. 

Everyone is capable of helping ~ see you on Saturday!

Taylor Johnson

Tour  Alaska will play on the night...

single review ~ 'animated angels' ~ high sundays

by 03:30

Name: High Sundays
Genre: Funk/Rock
For Fans Of: The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Treehome
Location: Belfast

Young, driven and very, very loud. Belfast's 'High Sundays' fit this blue-print perfectly, and despite being very new to the music scene here, they've wasted no time in getting their name out there. There's a few reasons at play for this. Firstly, the ambition radiates from this band from the moment you meet them. Always planning, always scheming, looking for a new challenge. Withing the first couple of months of becoming a band they'd already made it through to the final of The Pavilion's prestigious Battle Of The Bands contest, built up a firm following through their funky demos and supported the beloved Serotonin at their farewell roof-top gig in The Oh  Yeah Centre. Not bad. Secondly, they're all really decent dudes. Friendly, personable and always laughing, High Sundays seem to embody their own upbeat tunes off the stage, as well as on it. Earlier released demos such as the excellent 'Racing' (which is really worth a listen), put the band in a good position ~ but could they deliver on their new single?

'Animated Angels' see's High Sundays dabble with electronica for the first time, indeed, upon hearing the first 30 seconds you'd be forgiven for thinking In An Instant had released their new single early! It's eerie, yet unusually house-like. A strange mix, all brought together with a great melody and a smooth vocal from frontman Jack Moran. 

It's hard to talk about this band without mentioning The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, who are clearly a mammoth influence. Yes, there's perhaps a Stadium Arcadium vibe running through here if you dig deep enough, though it must be said that 'Animated Angels'  is the biggest step High Sundays have taken to crafting their own personal sound to date. Catchy, chilled and with a huge chorus thrown in for good measure, this, you feel, is High Sundays at their best. When they are writing songs like this, they enter a groovey soundscape dominated so far by the awesome Treehome and very few others.

No doubt High Sundays have the potentiual to stay there too.

Taylor Johnson

news ~ different vibes...

by 03:56

Acoustic songwriters of the world, unite and take over!

Belfast is a city which respects it's acoustic songwriters. We don't demand to see a license in order to play your music in the streets, nor will we confine our buskers to dirt ridden doorways, hidden from view. We're a nation which can appreciate a good tune and as such our open mic scene is still thriving. Though have you ever felt frustrated whilst listening to some young troubadour, pouring their heart out to the sounds of other people talking over them? Been left aggrieved by some guy with a beard's note perfect rendition of Bob Dylan, interrupted by a noisy bar? 

Worry no longer, as Gerry Norman (A Plastic Rose/Tour Alaska) has created the most perfect of environments for the humble open mic within Belfast's Oh Yeah Centre, to combat these problems.

Every Wednesday from 6:30-9pm. Relax in the comfort of Oh Yeahs Cafe Bar which is transformed to a beautiful candle-lit setting for both performer and audience to enjoy, surrounded by iconic memorabilia of Northern Irelands most famous exports. Fantastic beer and wine offers make this night the perfect mid week wind down. To guarantee a spot simply email or even just turn up and play. It's free in and every act receives a complimentary drink for performing. House guitar and piano provided.

So far Differnet Vibes has hosted the likes of Son of the Hound, Patrick Gardiner, Travis is a Tourist and Owen McGarry ~ head over to the Different Vibes official Facebook page here, for more details.

Taylor Johnson

ep review ~ 'friday night fever' ~ the couth

by 15:24
The Couth launch their new EP on Friday 9th October, in The Hudson Bar, Belfast

Name: The Couth 
Genre: Indie-Rock
For Fans Of: The Strokes, The Libertines, The Ramones
Location: Lisburn

If Lisburn's The Couth cemented their place amongst Belfast's finest with their debut EP 'Casual Sex  At The Omniplex', last years punk-angled single 'Bloodbreaker' kept them there; but what for new release 'Friday Night Fever'? Could they yet again scale the heights of songs like 'Cycles', 'Down By The River' and 'If You Go'?

The answer comes within the first track, '45 Seconds', the piledriving introduction to a record swimming in melody, attitude and riffs galore. There's plenty to singalong to here, as The Couth's punk anthems continually sway between mosh-pit renegades and sleek indie-dance. As the distortion fades from '45 Seconds' and the last crashing chorus rings out, there's a feeling of real satisfaction here. This is a band sounding united, re-invigorated even. So far, so good.Then comes 'Pretty Lady', simply the bands best work to date.

A swirling mass of energy, 'Pretty Lady' treads the delicate tightrope between guitar slinging-indie rock (a la Libertines) that they do so well, and a 60's Beach Boys swing. Opening with a riff that could have been pinched straight off The Strokes 'Is This It', the track draws you in with one of the bands finest lyrics to date, ("cut my throat but don't take my necklace...") whilst that infectious melody does the rest. Then comes the chorus, an indie waltz both completely unexpected and totally brilliant. After such a strong start you're left just waiting for this songs shortcomings, but as brothers David and Matthew McCrum share vocal duties into 'Pretty Lady's rousing outro, it just doesn't let you down.

Final track 'Wild Notion' is a Black Key's styled bluesy-rock number, covered in guitars and a funky bass line to boot. Once again, The Couth continue to hit the mark on this record with another blinding chorus, and suddenly you understand why this was chosen to close proceedings. Descending into an inspired breakdown (their heaviest since 'Bloodbreaker'), it's the explosive ending this EP deserved.

Welcome back lads, more of the same please!

Taylor Johnson

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