Arts

Noise Annoys: Sound of Belfast 2020, new music from Arborist and Sister Ghost's ghoulishly good Halloween-themed charity compilation

Noise Annoys is back with news on Sound of Belfast 2020, new music from Arborist and a ghoulishly good Halloween-themed charity compilation

Arborist have a new double A-side single out now. Picture by Carrie Davenport

:: Sound of Belfast 2020 going online

BELFAST'S annual Sound of Belfast festival kicks off today, although the 2020 version is going to look a little different from previous years – for obvious reasons.

While it normally features a tonne of free live shows staged across Belfast, in light of all things pandemic, the Oh Yeah centre's 7th annual Sound of Belfast is instead moving online for a series of pre-recorded live performances in empty venues across the city which will be viewable via the Oh Yeah YouTube channel between today and November 12.

The series will kick off with performances from Ryan McMullan on the roof of Oh Yeah and Brand New Friend in the Oh Yeah venue room below, with other acts taking part including New Pagans at Voodoo, Jealous of The Birds at The Limelight, Neil Martin at the Strand Arts Centre, Dani Larkin at Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich, Ruth McGinley at Start Together Studio, Duke Special at The Belfast Empire and the Scott Flanigan Trio featuring Linley Hamilton at the Ballyhackamore Social Club. Find the full line-up at Soundofbelfast.com.

"It's been a devastating year for music and there's no disguising how badly the live scene has been impacted," explains Charlotte Dryden of Oh Yeah.

"It's been grim for artists, venues, promoters and pretty much anyone involved in making events happen. We have collectively appealed to the government for help and will continue to do so while finding ways to adapt and carry on.

"But for now, and especially during this most recent lockdown, we felt it was important to get something positive and helpful out there and into the homes of musicians and audiences. And so, while these events and performances are tinged with the sadness of the last six months, the programme is a brilliant reminder of the great wealth of talent that exists and how despite all the odds everyone wanted to get involved.

"The resulting programme is as good as it can be without being live. We hope people embrace it in the spirit it is intended."

The programme also will still include workshops, talks, panels and one-to-one meetings. Presenters from YouTube Music, Performing Rights Society for Music (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL), Help Musicians, Ditto and the Association of Independent Music (AIM) will host events on video platforms (registration is necessary).

Special events will include Getting To Know... Therapy? with the Irish alt-rock pioneers in conversation about their career and new rock biography So Much For The 30 Year Plan, plus an event dedicated to the late Quiet Arch founder Lyndon Stephens, organized by Malojian.

Oh Yeah's 'all ages' events team Volume Control team will host their new Clash of The New Breeds showcase event featuring up and coming acts Poetic License, Recovery, Small Talk and Charlie Hanlon on Instagram, and there will be a ticketed event on Zoom with Sam Wickens and Becah.

This year's NI Music Prize will also be streamed live on the Oh Yeah YouTube Channel on November 12, including the presentation of this year's Legend Award for late Belfast singer/songwriter Bap Kennedy.

:: See Soundofbelfast.com and Youtube.com/user/ohyeahcentre

:: Arborist – The Mountain Will Come to You / A Heart in Minor

ON THE subject of the NI Music Prize, NI Album / Single of The Year contender Arborist has just released a new double A-side single in the form of The Mountain Will Come to You / A Heart in Minor.

I love double A-sides. Essentially an artist's way of saying "both these tracks are so good, it would have been rude to label one of them as a mere B-side", it's not hard to hear why Arborist mainman Mark McCambridge has gone with the format here: The Mountain Will Come To You is a sweepingly romantic waltzer that will surely cause even the most cynical of hearts to flutter, while the swoonsome country sad balladry of A Heart in Minor is about as catchy as lovelorn yearning gets.

For both tunes, McCambridge and co are assisted in the creation of mood by The Errigal Quartet, who deploy their strings-based sorcery to fine effect. The result is a bittersweet but ultimately hopeful double A-side release that's very much a tonic for troubled times.

Grab the limited edition Rollercoaster Records pressed vinyl 7-inch and plain old vanilla download versions from Arboristmusic.bandcamp.com this very Bandcamp Day (for it is today) – and don't miss Mark's recent collaboration with Malojian, the pleasingly woozy acoustics 'n' brass hewn duet Good Things Follow You, while you're there.

:: Sister Ghost & Fiends – Samhain Mixtape

FINALLY for this week, while Halloween may have already come and gone, that's no excuse for not checking out this new compilation of spooky cover tunes and seasonally appropriate originals curated by Belfast alt rockers Sister Ghost (also NI Music Prize nominees), featuring local luminaries like No Matter, Alpha Chrome Yayo, Gnarkats and Lauren Bird and fiends from further afield – the US is represented by Atlanta's Mom Friend, LA's Spare Parts for Broken Hearts and Kissin Kate from Grand Rapids in Michigan.

This 16 track pick 'n' mix was released to lift spirits (geddit?) and raise funds for music charity Girls Rock School NI during the world's first ever lockdown Halloween, as Sister Ghost's hostess with the mostess (and GRSNI founder) Shannon O'Neill explains:

"I always like to do something fun around Halloween and this year I knew I wanted to create something collaborative given the increased isolation we'll all be feeling, heading into lockdown number two.

"It just made sense to reach out to some of my favourite musicians and to try and make it as far-reaching as possible in terms of who was involved and from where. I've been incredibly lucky to have worked and performed abroad and made friends along the way, so to have a selection of those on one of our releases, at my favourite time of year, raising money for Girls Rock is just a dream (or the perfect nightmare?) come true."

Highlights include a pair of covers from Sister Ghost's own respectful take on Donovan's evergreen Halloween playlist fave, Season of The Witch, and their goulishly groovy 90s indie dance update of Dusty Springfield's Spooky, Mom Friend's hauntingly catchy take on Ryan 'isn't he cancelled now?' Adams' Halloween Head, Lauren Bird's inspired incorporation of John Carpenter's iconic Halloween theme into a country-ish synthpop take on Phoebe Bridgers' hit Halloween (which Gnarkats also take an entirely respectable early Ash-esque crack at), the soaring stadium grunge of Cold Wave by Spare Parts For Broken Hearts, Pigeon Coop's pretty anti-folky campfire sing-along Little Ghost (more cat cameos in songs, please) and GRSNI rad grads Alumna tackling I Put A Spell on You in a sultry, stripped-down fashion.

The Samhain Mixtape also signs off in memorable style with local supergroup Ghost Shaped Mom playing us out by giving a Cheap Trick classic a Halloween make-under as I Want You To Haunt Me, performed with the aid of a church organ and tons of spooky echo/reverb.

Rest assured, your £6.66 will be put to ghoulishly good use by the gals at GRSNI. Dig deep at Sisterghost.bandcamp.com.

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