Welcome to the latest of this relatively new format of my review of the best of local singles. The hope when reformatting this column was to give exposure to more singles from local artists and perhaps opening a few more minds as to what is out there. I can tell you, the problem is not one of finding enough material to fill this column. No. The problem is being able to choose which submissions make the cut for this month and which, sadly have to wait till next month in case there is a free space (unlikely given what I have just said), or to try again next time. This past 4-6 weeks has seen a bumper crop sent my way. So, apologies to anyone who has submitted material during this period and who have not ‘made the cut’.
I am having to learn to be ruthless and base my choices on song quality (against the genre standard), recording quality and overall package (i.e. the press kit sent to me to help me write about the band. If you are reading this as an artist or band who submitted music and your submission didn’t make the cut, then perhaps you need to review those 3 aspects of your submission. Rest assured, these are aspects of your work that anyone in the industry will base their judgment of you on. In addition to that, if you intend to be a professional musician and songwriter, the one thing you will surely have to learn to cope with (and learn from) is rejection. End of lecture.
►The Barbiturates – ‘Famous Blue Raincoat [Reply] A Letter To Leonard Cohen’
Wow, that title is quite a mouthful, already signposting that Derry lads, The Barbiturates, have an offbeat style about them. It’s not a style that is completely original or new to me. I grew up in the post-punk era where there were loads of bands who were influenced by the Velvet Undergound, The Doors, Berlin-period Bowie and indeed, the aforementioned Cohen. We had Joy Division, Teardrop Explodes, Cocteau Twins and many, many more. It is only natural that a few decades later bands will in turn be influenced by those bands – but most will try to add a modern twist. But not The Barbiturates. I don’t hear any modern twist in ‘Famous Blue Raincoat…’. However, I think that is the point. You don’t write an ode to Leonard Cohen’s famous song and kitchen sink the thing. It’s stripped back. The guitars jangle. The vocals are raw, warts ‘n all. I like it. I like that the band have this sense of themselves and aren’t afraid to take it where it needs to go. I’m definitely interested in hearing more. The band has its own studio and label in Derry – S.O.D. Records – showing a little of what I was talking about in my introduction – bands showing that they can do a lot for themselves as opposed to sitting around waiting for someone to do it for them. Good work.
Liverpool-based quintet, Cavarly, qualify for CB coverage due to guitarist Austin Logan, who hales from Dungannon. I have reviewed this band before and ‘Everything’ is yet another piece of evidence for making a very strong case for this band to go places:- atmospheric, classy, polished and memorable without ever being obvious or cheesy. It is little wonder the band has been picking up very strong reviews and decent support slots for name bands. The future looks bright for Austin and the lads. And boys, we’re only a boat trip away you know….
► D.A.N.- ‘Clothes Off’
Another Nor’n Ir’n exile is up next in the shape of Derry man D.A.N. Again, he is not new to Singles Club. I reviewed ‘Fairytale’ last year and was impressed. Once again, I have to show my age here and admit I remember ‘Clothes Off’ being a hit originally for Jermaine Stewart in 1986. Back then ‘we don’t have to take our clothes off to have a good time’ was an interesting message from a Pop star during such a time of excess/decadence. D.A.N. has certainly given the song a new twist, both in terms of the tempo (much slowed down from the original – ambient not disco), and the style of the video (in the 1980’s the only things filmed in a launderette were jeans ads and Eastenders). Overall, I think he has done a really clever reinterpretation of the song and this should only strengthen his reputation.
► Robb Murphy- ‘To Be A Fool’
To lovers of good local singer songwriters, Belfast’s Robb Murphy should need no introduction, because he is right up there as one of our best – as proven by last year’s critically acclaimed album, ‘Sleep Tonight’. ‘To Be A Fool’ has been lifted from the album and given a little bit of a polish, including the addition of the lush sound of the Ulster String Quartet. The word ‘class’ could have been invented to describe this release. It brings to mind Elbow at their most regal and Travis at their most heartfelt. Essential listening for lovers of those bands. Quality stuff.
► Colour Canyon- ‘Home’
As you probably know by now, Electro dance music isn’t really my thing. But I gave this listen (the sacrifices I make) and guess what? I actually liked it. The vocal loop beginning pulled me in, almost enough to forgive the lack of guitar, and the whole song bops along quite nicely. Colour Canyon (yes I misread the ‘canyon’ as ‘crayon’ on first glance too) are Michelle Considine (ethereal vocals) and Harry Bookless who hale from Dublin. This is a relatively new project but both were involved in Little X’s For Eyes previously. I read that one of their influences is Stevie Nicks and ‘Home’ does have that ‘Tango in the Night’ era Fleetwood Mac feel about it – as if it is the backing track beneath a song or the extended part of a 12″ single. I hope that doesn’t sound unkind – blame the rocker in me for always looking for the traditional. As I said, Colour Canyon is a relatively new act – so check ’em out if electro/ambient music is your thing.
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