Noise Annoys: Glastonbury beckons as Problem Patterns stage Spring Formal, Ben Glover releases album...

All we are is dust in the wind, dude

The mighty Problem Patterns say it with flowers
The Belfast band are staging a Spring Formal next week - and battling to play Glastonbury. PICTURE: Betsy Bailie

NOISE Annoys is full of the joys of Spring (the ‘noise of Spring’, you might say - but please don’t) this week with words on a top new local release and some exciting gig-related news to help raise our collective spirits.

Now, if only the weather would just hurry up and pick a season – preferably the correct, mostly dry one for this time of year – and stick to it for longer than 15 minutes, we could really start to enjoy ourselves.


Problem Patterns – Spring Formal

IT WAS almost five years ago now that Noise Annoys got its first taste of local legends Problem Patterns, when the then fledgling punk rock quartet launched their debut EP with a glitter, sparkles and fake blood (because Carrie) bedecked ‘alternative prom’ at The Black Box.

This glam-packed show was a bit of a game-changer for myself, restoring my faith in the power of live music - ironically mere months before gigs went away entirely during the Covid pandemic.

I became an instant convert of the fearless Belfast group, who went on to get signed and release a fantastic debut album, Blouse Club, while winning hearts and minds well beyond their home patch.

Read more:

Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition Finalists 2024
Problem Patterns are through to the 2024 live final

Indeed, they have just made it to the endgame of Glastonbury’s Emerging Talent Competition, the live final of which they’ll be smashing to pieces next Saturday night for a chance to play the festival and nab £5k of ‘talent development’ moolah.

To help them get warmed up, Problem Patterns are dusting off their frocks and tuxes for another ‘prom’ – a Spring Formal on Thursday April 25 at the Union Bar (tickets via shine.net) with special guests Beauty Sleep as support, so best get your own glad rags pressed and/or folded for the occasion now.

The night after that, they are down in that Dublin at the Workman’s Club with Hotgirl and Big Tears, and, after a quick jaunt through Eng-er-land opening for the likes of Other Half, Yakkie and Arch Femesis (plus a DJ slot at Pink Pound and Gender Chores’ show at the American Bar on May 23), they’ll be playing a rescheduled Derry date at The Nerve Centre with support from Lord Jane on June 15.

Later in the summer, they’ve Irish shows at Stendhal (July 4-6) and with Stiff Little Fingers in Belfast (August 17) to look forward to – and maybe some Glastonbury Festival action as well, hopefully accessible via the BBC’s magic red button.

Ben Glover – And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky (album, self-released)

Glenarm-bred singer-songwriter Ben Glover
The Glenarm-bred singer-songwriter releases his new album next week. PICTURE: Laura Schneider

NASHVILLE-based, Glenarm-bred singer songwriter Ben Glover took his sweet time recording his latest album, And The Sun Breaks Through The Sky.

Written with a little help from songwriting partners including Mary Gauthier, Gretchen Peters, Kim Richey and Neilson Hubbard, the record was pieced together at a leisurely pace over the course of four years.

Maybe it’s my imagination, but you can kind of feel the benefit of that lower-pressure, ‘let’s just have fun’ approach in the soothing sounds of the finished product, which is out next week via benglover1.bandcamp.com.

It will take up just over 30 minutes of your life for a front-to-back listen, making a fine soundtrack to any restorative time-out from the daily grind you might have scheduled.

Opener Make My Way Home introduces Ben’s smoky, easy-on-the-ear vocals over gently woozy guitars (featuring Johnny Duke on electric duty) and warm keyboard swells (courtesy of Juan Solorzano), with complementary backing vox from Jaimee Harris helping to build a ‘sunny early Sunday morning stroll after a powerful Saturday night out’ kind of feel.

Ben Glover
PICTURE: Laura Schneider (Laura Schneider Photo/Laura Schneider Photo)

The album’s uber-catchy title tune, co-written with Neilson Hubbard, who plays drums and sings back-up, then offers a slinky cautionary tale – “have you seen forgiveness like two brothers bleeding, then in the middle meeting?” – featuring more atmospheric organ grinding, this time from Danny Mitchell, and some nice bluesy guitar wrangling from either Mr Duke or possibly fellow six-stringer Will Kimbrough.

The heart-warming country rock of There’s a River is a simple love song co-written with Eliot Bronson, packed with hazy guitar strumming, groovy drums (courtesy of Evan Hutchings), pedal steel by Colm McLean, and another catchy chorus advising that there’s “nothing but love to fall into”, while The Meadow (co-written with Mary Gauthier) takes things down a notch for a finger-picked, homesickness and heartache-tinged American road trip ballad, laden with evocative car window imagery like “cornfields, catfish farms and swamps” and enlivened by Danny Mitchell’s deft ivory tinkling.

Lifetimes Apart (written with Kent Agee) offers yet more affecting acoustic Americana, a heartfelt centrepiece for the album that’s fuelled by nostalgia and longing: “Hear the wind blow, feel the world spin, feel the past leaving and coming right back again... we’re all in the same place, lifetimes apart”. Great strumming from Ben here, who delivers another strong vocal performance, and there’s some tasty flugelhorn from Mr Mitchell too.

It pairs well with One Fine Day (co-written with Kim Richey), an unplugged ode to escape/rebirth where the song title becomes a simple, soothing chorus refrain.

Arguing With Ghosts is the album’s only triple writing credit, a three-way collab between Ben, Matraca Berg and Gretchen Peters – who released her own fine version of it a few years ago. It’s another stand-out tune, which initially takes us to church via Danny Mitchell’s muted gospel hall organ before giving way to a hushed but impassioned strum ‘n’ croon about memories and the ‘joys’ of getting old. It’s pretty much a duet between Ben and Kim Richey and there’s a great, fuzzy slide guitar solo from Colm McLean as the song builds towards its powerful ending.

The penultimate number, Break for You, is one of the prettiest tunes of the whole collection. Another Kim Richey co-write, this haunting love song features ghostly banjo/ganjo plucking courtesy of Will Kimrough and moody double bass from Sam Howard, while benefitting immensely from the Natalie Schlabs’ breathy backing vocal and Danny Mitchell’s Hammond vibes.

Finally, Till I See You Again (another co-write with Mary Gauthier) is a tender ode to the departing/ed. Featuring pretty piano from Barry Walsh, close-mic vocals from Ben and an atmospheric guitar interlude from Colm McLean, this one is set to become a funeral favourite among fans who want one of Ben’s tunes as their exit music of choice.

You can inform him of your last wishes in person when he launches the album with a Belfast show at The Black Box on May 8 during the Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival: tickets are on sale now via cqaf.com.

exmagician - Sharpen These (single, self-released)

exmagicians Danny Todd and James Smith
Danny Todd and James Smith are back with a new record

ALL good things come to those who procrastinate: a mere eight years on from their debut album, Scan The Blue, the exmagicians - Danny Todd and James Smith - are finally back in business with their second LP, Sit Tight, due out on June 21.

To help get you in the mood and remind everyone of their considerable psychedelic synths n guitars-based alternative charms, the duo are today releasing its opening tune as a teaser single.

Thrumming along on its pleasingly insistent bassline, Sharpen These is a gently funky, fuzzy, 70s-glam and country rock-flavoured groover.

Its sire, Mr Todd, wishes you to know the following information:

“It was the last track written for the album. I think it started with the earthquaking fuzz synth sound grooving to the funkadelic plod of the drums. There’s possibly a touch of Terence Trent D’Arby in there, too.

“The lyrics are based on the mountains of self-help and motivational quotes you scroll through on social media. Maybe we should have an AI Mark E Smith churning out motivational quotes. I’d dig that algorithm.”

Find Sit Tight wherever you find music, and perhaps keep an eye on exmagician.com for news of any kind of live activity that might be happening to mark its release.


Starr Records Record Store Day Rumble
Starr Records Record Store Day Rumble

TO CELEBRATE Record Store Day tomorrow, Belfast’s own Starr Records (and only RSD participant) will be staging a special multi-band showcase of local musical talents between 1pm and 4pm at the Oh Yeah Centre.

The bill features live music from The Breeze, Arborist, Drew Makes Noise, Eamonn ‘The Gold Tips’ McNamee, YinYang, The Funeral Rose and Lemonade Shoelace.

Admission is £5 via starrrecords.co.uk - hopefully you can still afford that once you’ve picked up some expensive ‘limited edition’ re-issues at Starr from the annual RSD crapshoot, full details of which can be found at recordstoreday.co.uk.


Phil Kieran with the Ulster Orchestra - The Strand Cinema Live
DJ and producer Phil Kieran at The Strand
The DJ and producer will perform his album The Strand Cinema live at The Strand one last time on Saturday

IF YOU missed out on seeing Phil Kieran performing his album The Strand Cinema at the iconic east Belfast picturehouse which inspired it back in March, you’ve got one last chance this weekend.

Tomorrow evening, the DJ/producer and his chums in the Ulster Orchestra will stage a final live run-through to mark the end of his tenure as The Strand’s Artist in Residence and indeed the building’s imminent closure for refurbishment.

“I’ve enjoyed my time in the Strand as an artist in residence so much, and see it as the most enjoyable years of my creative life,” comments Kieran.

“We look forward to sharing this experience with you all before the building closes and also when my own time there comes to an end.”

Tickets are on sale now via strandartscentre.com

Phil Kieran & The Ulster Orchestra perform The Strand Cinema
The Strand Cinema