Noise Annoys: New music from Ferals and Comrade Hat, Stendhal announces first line-up and Problem Patterns play virtual gig
:: Ferals – A Collection of Unreleased Works (EP, self-released)
FIRST up this week is an EP-sized compilation of wholly home-recorded tunes from Belfast alt-rockists Ferals, with each of its four tracks finding the trio trying on a slightly different musical style for size.
Opener Icarus is a slinky electropop/funk-informed number aimed squarely at dancefloors ('member dancefloors?), immediately followed by the moody maths-rock flavoured anthemics of Vaya Con Dios, which strays a little too close to screamo for my tastes once the aggro juice kicks in towards the end of its six minute sprawl – though the little synth-based instrumental coda is actually really cool.
My pick of the bunch is next up: Confusion combines thumping fuzz chug and peppy rhythmic bounce with an almost pop punky processed vocal refrain/hook. Fun, yet heavy with it, this would make for good summer festival fodder ('member summer festivals?).
Closing number Let Me Know How To Find You is also good value, a slowly unfurling anthemic ballad which sounds like it might have escaped from the closing credits of a teen movie as yet unmade. Apparently, it's a sequel of sorts to their previously released tune Gone – maybe that one can be used over the opening credits.
After listening to the new EP on Spotify, the royalty-shy streaming service helpfully cued up Ferals' last proper release for me, the banging single Separate from last year – a timely reminder that they can do short-sharp three minute earworms as well as the more experimental side of things.
Get up to date right now at the much more artist-friendly portal Feralsofficial.bandcamp.com.
:: Comrade Hat – Old Gods, Vol 1 (album, self-released)
IT'S been great to have the odd sunny day to savour of late – and of course any al fresco scenario can always be greatly enhanced by the correct soundtrack. With that in mind, might I suggest the new album from Comrade Hat, AKA Derry muso Neil Burns, as an ideal musical accompaniment to your next spell of outdoor relaxation.
Old Gods Vol 1 is a pastoral, pleasingly woozy collection of songs which run the gamut from psychedelic folk to expansive jazzy pop funk and daisy-age disco.
Previously released single Summer of Glove kind of combines all of those elements into a dreamy seven minute odyssey, while Riven Wanter Fancies positively shimmers with mesmeric Byrdsy finger-picked guitars and playful piano/synth flourishes.
Elsewhere, soul-tinged slow dancer (and previously released single) Whatever You Do has a sleepy, end of a sunny Sunday afternoon feel to it, while the plaintive Cracking The Code (also a single) delivers a megadose of minimal Ultravox-y electropop enhanced by coo-ing backing vocals courtesy of Siobhan Shiels and Ruth McCartney and deft deployment of 60s style organ.
Deep Sleep (yet another single) is pure country/rock-tinged psych-pop goodness tailor-made for alternative radio, while a stripped back and acid rock-dipped cover of ex-Delawares man Dominic O'Neill's tune Historicity also impresses.
Old Gods Vol 1 is all the more impressive when you read the liner notes and discover that it was kind of constructed from/inspired by unfinished songs re-discovered and revisited during lockdown.
"More than ever I trusted the process, and found that motifs emerged organically," writes Burns of how he conjured a record out of what he found on his hard-drives once plans for a new studio album were scuppered by Covid.
"In particular I was very struck by its contrasts: old and new, simple and complex, acoustic and electric, ethereal and grounded, cryptic and confessional. I found myself exploring and foregrounding the guitar much more than usual.
"By chance I had picked up a humble classical guitar just before lockdown… it felt like the stars aligned to make it all happen.
The almighty soundtrack to your next sunny afternoon awaits at Comradehat.bandcamp.com.
:: Stendhal Festival announces acts for July edition
TICKETS for the July and August editions of this year's Stendhal Festival at Ballymully Cottage Farm outside Limavady are already on sale and now the festival organisers have just announced at load of musical turns who will be performing – Covid guidelines permitting – at their first reduced capacity event this summer.
The musical line-up announced so far for their first weekend on July 9 and 10 features (deep breath) Beoga, Lyra, Kíla, General Fiasco, Ciaran Lavery, Joshua Burnside, Jealous of The Birds, Cormac Neeson, Amy Montgomery, Lore, Blackbird and Crow, Reevah, Ports, Paddy Nash, Bakken, Matt McGinn, Cherym, Bicurious, Bridgid O'Neill, Rebekah Fitch, Beauty Sleep, Joseph Leighton Organ Trio, Waldorf and Cannon, Villa in France, Molly Hogg, Travi The Native, Stephen Roddy, Teknopeasant, String Ninjas and The Drew Hamill Band.
Festival Director Ross Parkhill says: "We've been waiting to get back up to the farm for a long, long time now and this line up of homegrown Irish talent only makes that prospect all the more tantalising.
"Of course we have a huge selection of the very best Northern Irish acts as usual, covering loads of genres as usual and we expect that the bands and musicians are keen to make their return to a festival stage as memorable an occasion as possible.
"We have loads more to announce in terms of the line-up, more music, our family programme, comedy programme, poetry and arts line-ups are still to come."
On the prospect of restrictions on mass gatherings being lifted in time for this year's Stendhal events to go ahead, Ross adds: "We remain confident, now that the timetables for reopening across Northern Ireland have become clearer.
"Once beer gardens and hotels open up, we believe that camping and entertainment fields should be a very natural next step, particularly now that discussions regarding pilot events will be opening up at Stormont, hopefully within days."
:: See Stendhalfestival.com for ticket details and latest line-up information
:: Jamnesty online special tonight
FINALLY for this week, if you fancy enjoying some streamed pre-recorded live musical entertainment with a multi-regional flavour in the comfort of your own home this evening, then Jamnesty has your back: it's a virtual charity gig in aid of Amnesty International organised by the Amnesty International societies at the University of Nottingham, Edinburgh University, University of Stirling and Queen's University Belfast.
Featured artists include our very own Problem Patterns and Aeons, so point your digital device at Tinyurl.com/jamnesty2021 right now to secure a ticket for tonight's show, which kicks off at 7pm.
Problem Patterns have also confirmed their first ever London show for the end of the year at The Shackwell Arms, where they'll headline over Bristol's Beefywink and Pink Suits from Margate.
That's on December 3, so hopefully we may get a warm-up show or two closer to home before then – Covid-willing.