Noise Annoys: New music from Rory Nellis, Cormac Neeson and Atomic Drag, plus NI Music Prize news...

Belfast singer/songwriter Rory Nellis, behaving strangely. Picture by Joe Laverty

:: Rory Nellis – Strange Behaviour (single, self-released)

BELFAST singer/songwriter extraordinaire Rory Nellis has a new single out today called Strange Behaviour: a sublime synth-powered indie rock/pop nugget with a hugely catchy chorus, this tune chugs and soars in a highly addictive manner that makes it an ideal uplifting soundtrack to the start of your weekend.

Rory says: "It's a Weezer/Grandaddy-esque power-pop tale about the importance of opening up to your friends and family and features the musical talents of my good buddies Philip Watts d'Alton, Eilís Phillips, Dan Skinner, Herb Magee and Stephen Leacock."

I'd buy that for a dollar – or, more accurately, £1 via – and he didn't even mention the peak period Smashing Pumpkins-esque guitar solo he busts out somewhere in the middle there, the scamp.

You'll shortly be able to hear Strange Behaviour along with all your past, present and future Rory Nellis faves when he plays a full band show (remember them?) at the newly re-opened/re-furbed Deer's Head in Belfast on November 12 – stay tuned to his Twitter feed at @rorynellis and Facebook page at for ticket and full line-up details.

Cormac Neeson's new single Precious Cargo is out now

:: Cormac Neeson – Precious Cargo (single, 7Hz)

ANSWER frontman Cormac Neeson continues his solo career this week with new single Precious Cargo, an emotive, piano 'n' vocals based pop ballad on which Neeson unexpectedly pushes his voice into the whispery, high-pitched register which has become the signature sound of all 'sensitive' modern day singer/songwriters with chart aspirations.

Blessed with naturally powerful pipes which usually croon in the rock/blues style, he actually manages to pull this off, but whether or not the actual song – a collaboration with songwriter Alex Francis and local producer Jonny Fitch which is big on slow-build 'end credits of a movie' atmospherics – is your cup of tea will depend on your tolerance for this kind of slow-dance friendly material: there's a fine line between emotive and dreary.

Perhaps a banging dance remix would liven things up while also adding some bottom end 'oomph' allow those vocals to soar even more effectively?

Still, fair play to Neeson for trying something different and experimenting with a sound that he must know will leave a lot of fans who have stuck with him from the Answer days cold. And, given the strange times we are still living through, sometimes needs must:

"I actually developed a lot of the vocal ideas for this song during the first lockdown when I didn't have access to a studio," explains Neeson, "so I would play and sing through the song every night – but very quietly, as my two children slept upstairs.

"Almost by accident, I developed this unusual close, whispering type vocal sound which sparked the idea to evolve the track into a full production. It is definitely a departure from anything I've ever released before but I'm very proud of it so we're going to put it out there."

Form your own opinion now via Spotify and all your favourite streaming platforms, and also check out the very cool 'flick book' style sketch animation video for the track by Louis Nelson via the link you'll find at

Atomic Drag's new tune Atomic Drac is out now

:: Atomic Drag – Atomic Drac (single, Doom Bat)

AT FIRST glance, I thought this was a new 'band theme song' from sci-fi/horror obsessed Ballymoney surf punk(s) Atomic Drag – but, upon closer inspection, that final 'g actually turned out to be a 'c', meaning it's more of a 'just in time for Halloween' kinda deal.

That means we get samples of Bela Lugosi doing his be-caped/be-fanged thing as the Count himself – "Listen to them, children of the night – what music they make", "I am Dracula", etc etc – alongside other choice audio snippets ("Bats!") from the 1931 horror classic beneath a pitch-dark broiling sea of twangy guitars, spooky organ grinding and pounding hang-ten drums.

An essential addition to the party playlist of any vile Halloween soiree, Atomic Drac finds Atomic Drag digging their filthy surf groove up the beach and through the graveyard to the creepy castle on the hill, where they'll deliver death by stereo to any and all spooks, spectres and ghouls lurking within. Or at least invite them to do the Watusi.

In a word: fangtabulous. Suck it and see this very moment at, where you'll also find the latest Atomic Drag badges and ready-to-wear apparel available to purchase.

New Pagans are in the running for Best Album at this year's NI Music Prize

:: NI Music Prize Shortlist

FINALLY for this week, the first shortlists for this year's NI Music Prize have just been announced, so now it's up to you to vote for your favourite locally released single.

There are 14 contenders for the Best Album award, which is voted on by a judging panel, while eight artists are in the running for publicly voted Best Single award.

Voting for the latter is open now and will run until midnight on Thursday October 14 and all those casting a vote will be entered into a draw to win a pair of tickets to the NI Music Prize Awards show at Belfast's Ulster Hall on November 17.

This is the first year that the Awards shortlists have included two albums and singles which were automatically added via the results of a public vote. I'm pleased to see a few Noise Annoys favourites represented in both shortlists, which run as follows:


  • Amy Montgomery – Intangible
  • Bicep – Apricots
  • Cherym – Listening To My Head
  • Dea Matrona – Stamp On It
  • Enola Gay – Sofa Surfing
  • Invaderband – I Won't Remember You
  • Jordan Adetunji – Wokeup!
  • Waldorf & Cannon – We Are Your Government

:: BEST ALBUM 2021

  • Andrew McGibbon – Northern Gothic
  • Arvo Party Inheritance – Arvo Party
  • Bicep – Isles
  • Catalan! – Veritas
  • Dani Larkin – Notes for a Maiden Warrior
  • Hannah Peel – Fir Wave
  • Jealous of The Birds – Peninsula
  • Joshua Burnside – Into The Depths Of Hell
  • New Pagans – The Seed, The Vessel, The Roots & All
  • Peter J McCauley – Amnesty
  • Saint Sister – Where I Should End
  • This Ship Argo – Always the Bees: Never the Honey
  • Trú – No Fixed Abode
  • VerseChorusVerse – What If We Won

The winners of both categories will be announced at the Awards show on November 17. The winning album will receive a £3,000 cash prize, while the Best Single winner will receive £1,000.

Details of the Contender shortlist and the Outstanding Contribution to Music Award were still to be announced at time of writing. Keep up to date with the latest NI Music Prize news at, and be sure to vote for your favourite single while you're there.

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