news ~ beauty sleep unveil highly anticipated debut!

by 15:10

Dream-Pop supergroup 'Beauty Sleep' have finally unveiled their debut single and it does not disappoint!

The 80's inspired three piece, made up of the Wonder Villains duo Ryan McGroarty and Cheylene Murphy alongside Little Neddy Goes To War bassist Aimee Williamson, have rolled out the synth's on this slow burning groove of a track.

"The Dark", (which is anything but) sounds straight out of the Matty Healy school of ambiance, but draws on more trippy influences to complete their smooth sound.

Alongside the Longatude Festival bound Pleasure Beach, Hurdles and Bangor boys In An Instant, Beauty Sleep can add their name to the growing pop movement developing in Belfast at the moment.

Will these bands be the rightful heir's to the alt-rock class of the early 2000's? With such quality in no short supply, the answer is looking increasingly more positive by the day...

Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'savages' ~ goldie fawn

by 02:49

Name ~ Goldie Fawn
For fans of ~ Lana Del Rey,  Marina and the Diamonds, Florence and the Machine

Katie Richardson does not stand still. Forever throwing herself into new projects, new sounds and new looks, the singer-songwriter's constant strives toward the future is one of the characteristics which have endured her to the Belfast scene, since she first broke out as the awesome 'Katie and the Carnival'.

Now operating as 'Goldie Fawn', this slow burning anthem of a song may be far removed from her previous projects sparkle-edged charms; but thematically we see Richardson covering what she does best. Candlelit tales of poisoned love and primal instincts are delivered with a typically strong vocal, and whilst the production here proves darker than her previous efforts, everything from the tribal drum patterns, to the subtle synth play helps to carve out Goldie Fawn's theatrical playground.

It's lovelorn cynicism at it's finest and an excellent way to mark the beginnings of any new pop-career.

Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'dusk and dawn' ~ hurdles

by 06:31
Name; Hurdles
For fans of; CHVRCHES, Bombay Bicycle Club, Future Islands

At Encore NI we have been dancing religiously to Hurdles indie pop sounds ever since the release of their excellent debut EP 'Where To  Start'. With new single 'Dusk and Dawn' the band have taken massive leaps forward, both sonically and visually, as their pop sensibilities remain uncompromised, despite an onslaught of Mogwai flavored synths and an undoubtedly cool, 80's inspired aesthetic.

Though not completely leaving the guitars behind, here we see Hurdles sound expanding into Bombay Bicycle Club territory, with a song that would not look out of place on 'So Long, See You Tomorrow'.

Niall Hanna's distinct voice sounds great here, gliding between the sporadic vocal samples and layers of keys. There's even room for a crescendo of sorts, bringing this indie-pop gem to the smooth conclusions it cries out for.

Taylor Johnson

news ~ hot cops release new single on vinyl

by 05:23
Beige wonders ~ Hot Cops
Whether loosing touch,  mermaids, or all their friends to witness protection, Belfast's sweetest boys Hot Cops have tackled all that life throws their way with biting wit and poetic truth.

Now primed for the release of their latest single via Paper Trail Records, the band's scope of influence looks set to expand further again; twinned with the frighteningly anthemic 'Scared of Everything', the slow burning 'Passive Passive' has been a staple part of the Hot Cops live set for some time now.

Premiered by DIY magazine, this waltzing trailblazer of a track is the perfect Valentines day gift for that special someone. Own it on teal vinyl here.

Taylor Johnson

single review ~ 'death yawn' ~ rews

by 09:24

Name; Rews
For fans of; Deap Vally, Blondie, L7

One of Northern Ireland's most accomplished musicians, Shauna Tohill knows what makes a powerful pop-song. New outfit 'Rews' takes the grander production of her previous work and replaces it with raw guitars and amps turned right up to eleven.

Latest single 'Death Yawn' is a rampant tour through all the best elements of Tohill's impressive songwriting ability. Hook filled verses, playful lyricism and an instantly hummable chorus, here we see the addition of distortion filled guitar lines and a pounding drumbeat courtesy of Collette Williams. Whilst it would be easy to throw the 'riot grrrl' tag at the guitar-driven Rews, Tohill's prose is more cleverly subtle, than sloganeering. That's not to say they lack bite, as the songs hypnotic breakdown can attest to.

If Rews can keep throwing out more ear-worms like this, they'll have a very bright future indeed.

Taylor Johnson

track of the week ~ 'esoteric path' ~ rachael boyd

by 05:52

Name; Rachael Boyd
For fans of; Ludovico Einaudi, Meanwhile Back In Communist Russia, Sufjan Stevens

We're admittedly a little late to the party with this one, but that can't take away from the stunning beauty of experimental artist Rachael Boyd's latest creation. 'Esoteric Path's slow building lullaby evolves so gradually that you don't even realise it's happening.

One of Boyd's most compelling compositions to date, the harmonious interplay between her vocal samples, haunting Irish strings and that soft electronica she does so well is exceptionally beautiful here.

Championed by Hidden Machine's Nikki MacRae, 'Esoteric Path' is hopefully the start of even more exciting times for the solo career of Rachael Boyd. On this evidence, it certainly should be.

Taylor Johnson

news ~ pop icon david bowie returns to outer space

by 08:07

This morning the world woke up to the sad news that pop-pioneer David Bowie had died, aged 69 after an 18 month battle with cancer. The artist, who released his 25th studio album 'Blackstar' only last week, enjoyed a career spanning over five decades, with five UK number one's and a string of hugely successful albums.

For some modern day pop-stars, it seems any form of chart success is enough. They take their money, feed the tabloid machine and eventually embrace the sweet, sweet inevitable of "didn't you used to be that guy?" obscurity, In rare cases, however, this is not enough. An artist will emerge of such authenticity, of such heart and love for what they create, that they leave a mark of both cultural and musical significance. They inspire, they change lives; it's certainly not a common thing, but then neither was the mind of David Bowie.

A one man rock and roll revolution, Bowie was one of the first major pop stars to embrace an androgynous appearance in the 1970's, Whilst this artistic pioneering went on to define his career, his was a long journey which began with a series of skiffle and rhythm and blues bands in the 1960's. This, coupled with a series of low-paid acting jobs and a debut solo album left mostly ignored, would be the height of the teenage Bowie's success; that is until July 1969. Devastated by the break-up of his then girlfriend, Bowie poured his heart into a story about an astronaut lost in space, The single was released just days before the first moon landings. As the world looked towards Neil Armstrong and that iconic moment in human history, 'Space Oddity' would act as the soundtrack, in Britain anyway.

As the single gradually began to loose momentum, the turn of the 1970's proved a golden opportunity for change and reinvention. Inspired by the likes of Lou Reed, Bowie began to see the link between art and music clearer than ever before. Reed's group, The Velvet Underground, were managed by Andy Warhol and their tales of sexual freedom, drugs and liberalism proved a major influence on the next stage of Bowie's career. The American avant-garde art scene was exciting. This was a new America, a post-war America and that had a profound affect on the newly married musician. He soon began openly cross dressing, shocking audiences with his hair long and androgynous style. It was around this time he released his next album, 'The Man Who Sold The World', which would see it's title track immortalized by Nirvana over twenty years later.

Shortly after the release of his next album, 'Hunky Dory', (which appropriately included the mammoth hit 'Changes') Bowie would go on to change the game forever. Coming out to the music press as bi-sexual in an interview with Melody Maker, he then took the step of perfecting his alter-ego. Now set up with a solid touring band, which he christened 'The Spiders From Mars', Ziggy Stardust was born. He died his hair red, made his trousers tighter and painted his face into the iconic stripes the world would soon come to know him through; and so he set about writing his story.

A homoerotic, bisexual, alien-rock superstar, 'Ziggy Stardust' was a revelation almost immediately. Having since gone on to influence characters like 'Vince Noir' in the cult comedy The Mighty Boosh, Bowie's scope of influence from this period was mammoth, but whilst the concept remained brilliant, could the music possibly live up to it's back story? Thankfully it did, as 'The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars' went gold shortly after it's release in June 1972.

Glam-rock was now alive and David Bowie was becoming a bigger name than ever before. He took Ziggy Stardust to America, where the hype continued to grow, though all was not well behind the scenes. As the songwriter's plaudits and fan base began to escalate, so too did his drug habit, inspiring his next album 'Aladdin Sane' (A pun on 'A-Lad-Insane'). It was his first album as a bona-fide rock star and eventually went to number one.

It was always going to take a big single to uphold the Ziggy Stardust legacy of the past couple of years and in 'Rebel Rebel' Bowie had another classic at his disposal. After 'Rebel' and it's subsequent album 'Diamond Dogs' success he moved to America, where his drug habit soon got out of hand. After a brief return to acting and the release of yet another album (the R&B influenced 'Young Americans', which gave him his first US #1), Bowie's next move was to relocate to Berlin. Here he hoped to continue to evolve his sound, whilst kicking his drug habit as best he could.

He would, of course, go one better and in October 1977 the album '"Heroes"' was released. The title track, which featured Brian Eno, would go on to become one of the UK's most memorable and iconic pop songs ever. The imagery of two lovers kissing 'by the wall' remains one of the most potent of the era and indeed, of any Bowie song.

As a new decade and the era of the music video loomed, David Bowie continued to reinvent himself. In 1983 he released the platinum selling 'Let's Dance' album and further mainstream adoration ensued. There was no doubt ~ David Bowie had secured his place in pop history, as a new generation embraced the London natives' music.

David Bowie's twenty fifth and final album 'Blackstar' was released two days before his death. On his final single 'Lazarus' he opens with the lines "Look up here, I'm in heaven, I've got scars that can't be seen". 

In typical style, Bowie bows out of this world in real artistic fashion. A true great, we here at Encore NI will be playing his records a little bit louder over the next few months. We hope you will to ~ there can be no greater tribute to one of the most dynamic artists of the 20th century.

Taylor Johnson
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