► Joshua Burnside
Lately I’ve been delving into the wealth of singer-songwriters Northern Ireland has to offer. It’s the ones that are a little bit different that tend to catch my eye. Despite being released back in June 2013, Joshua Burnside’s EP ‘If You’re Goin’ That Way’ is a record I keep listening to at the moment. It’s a wonderful little EP with some of the best Northern Irish folk you’ll hear. These five tracks showcase Burnside’s songwriting talent, range of influences and love of varied folk sounds. The instrumentation on show is a delight with acoustic guitars, banjos, strings and layered vocal parts but even the stripped down, lo-fi sound of ‘August 1973’ has its place. As a big Tom Waits fan, the Waitsian swagger of ‘Black Dog Sin’ was always going to be a personal favourite. But each track is as wonderful as the last. This record is certainly folk but it’s unpredictable, unconventional and so well put together. And that’s why I love it.
► Mojo Fury
Almost half a year on from its release, Mojo Fury’s incendiary crowd funded masterpiece, ‘The Difference Between’ has remained a constant presence in both my head and the “Recently Played” playlist on my iPod alike.
Filled with visceral riffs (see ‘Origami Bird’, ‘Money Body Body Money’ and title track ‘The Difference Between’) and electronic hooks that alter between being minimalist and acerbic, (‘Iris Influential’), this album is a very rare hybrid indeed. It goes to show just how much Mojo Fury have progressed as a band- the production is absolutely impeccable, and whilst it is quite a departure from the sound showcased on ‘Visiting Hours Of A Travelling Circus’, every track manages to further cement their identity as a rock act.
Soulful yet suave, “The Difference Between” has retained all the musicality of its predecessor, and then some. As if it wasn’t already common knowledge that Mojo Fury are one of the most promising bands to emerge from Northern Ireland, then this album ought to be more than sufficient to confirm their status as musical heavyweights.
I won’t spend too much time waxing lyrical about art rockers R51 as Al Gilmore has done it at length (here and here) but they have firmly cemented themselves into my recent listening. Their latest single ‘Slowhound’ is a regular slice of dreamy heaven which leans on the notion of whimsical guitar rock. Think of Welsh rockers, The Joy Formidable, throw in a bit of the Smashing Pumpkins and you are somewhere close. Their live show is nothing to be sniffed at either; they stole the show during the most recent BREED showcase despite being the opening act. News that they are back in the studio recording yet another single is just music to my ears.
► The Wood Burning Savages
If there is one band you must see live by the time festival season rocks around the corner, it’s Derry’s The Wood Burning Savages. I’ve seen them four times so far in 2014 and each time the buzz afterwards has been like a bolt of lighting pulsating through my core. It’s the kind of frenzied joy which spurs you on to tell anybody who comes within five metres what they’re missing out on.
When I caught them in a heaving Sandino’s during the Other Voices weekend, I felt as if I was having a ‘Terri Hooley moment’. Smile from ear to ear, completely spellbound by an enthralling Paul Connolly running riot on stage as if possessed by the ghosts of Ian Curtis and Joe Strummer at the same time.
The rest of the band are as slick as they come, forming a steadfast base of dynamic punk-rock. Flowing moments of poetic literature nods are woven into the fabric of the band thanks to Connolly’s exquisite lyricism- for which he has very few peers. With such strong base melodies tying it all together, it can be tough to figure out whether to pogo or jive dance.
This jagged demo of their moody set closer ‘Thoughts Of You’ is the closest reflection of their raw live sound and will leave you with a fire in your belly.