Musical Interlude

So a little interlude on one of my other interests. A now extensive gig going record has revealed that it is painfully rare to catch band that is special, especially a local one. I stumbled over The Lowly Knights supporting California indie folksters Port O’Brien, and they accomplished the very rare feat of being better than the main act. Self described as “grand ramshackle folk opera”, and having about a million members the lazy comparison is with the likes of The Polyphonic Spree. But for my money behind the big, upbeat choir on many of their tracks there is an intimacy you’d be more like to find with a singer/songwriter; see “You can tell a man by how he lifts his hands” on myspace for evidence.The big choir (suitably augmented by the crowd when need be) gives them a rich, full sound and while they have a limited repertoire at the moment it lacks any obvious weak points and leads to a really tight set. They’re following support slots with Snow Patrol by writing new material, and if there is any justice in the world they’ll explode sometime later this year. YouTube isn’t great for videos of them, but this one isn’t bad:

In contrast, Bangor three piece Two Door Cinema Club didn’t quite gel for me live. It’s always tough for support acts to work a crowd who’s there to see someone else and the Empire is a fairly big room, but the performance was just a little flat. Since then though, their track Something Good Can Work has worked its way steadily up my “Most Played” playlist so they are definitely worth keeping an eye on.

Skibunny have just completed a short North American tour including appearances at the influential South by South West festival. No new material for a while, but they’ve released a video for UpDown, a cool piece of electro pop that would effortlessly slot into one of their club nights.

I saw Cara Cowan singing Dylan’s It Ain’t Me, Babe at McHugh’s and I bitterly regret not capturing it on my new fangled space phone as it was all kinds of awesome. It’s now probably lost forever. A bit more investigation revealed some beautiful, delicate vocals and this little gem. She’s playing at The Limelight next Wednesday and I shall likely be there. She is related to the Cowans of Belfast punk outfit The Outcasts, to those that means anything to.

A little further afield, Mundy has released his studio fourth album but from what I’ve heard it’s not quite up to his previous standards; Fever is probably the pick of the bunch but I can’t see it lighting up the Irish charts like “Galway Girl” or “July”. He’s fairly solid live and while he’s playing the Electric Picnic this year he rarely ventures North which is a shame. Unlike dubs The Delorentos, who have been frequent visitors across the border, the highest profile supporting at Belsonic last year. They briefly threatened to split but thankfully that’s been knocked on the head and they can continue to produce more post punk melodic rock. Gifted with two excellent singers, The Rules is representative of their first album. The new track “You Can Make Sound” is available gratis on their official site.

Finally Brian Wilson is playing The Electric Picnic. Brian f**cking Wilson!!! Someone’s glad they picked up their early bird ticket.

  • The Raven

    Oh my goodness…at last….a post which actually veers off into the culture part of NI. (Ken you may have done this before – I alas have missed it)

    I’ve seen the Knights now on a few occasions – if you like the Spree, or Magic Numbers, go and see these guys (and gals).

    Can I also recommend to those who enjoy a bit of a dabble in the music scene – and in writing this I hope some of them are still on the go locally, as I haven’t been to town in a while, and have to rely on myspace:

    Cashier No 9
    Kitty and the Can Openers
    Ben Glover
    Amy McGarrigle
    And So I Watch You From Afar

    There are so many more…..take the time to explore. The Empire still takes musical risks. Some of the cafes and bars in town will do special one-off evenings of the weird and the wonderful. And long may it last.

    Myspace is full of these people all waiting to break through to something bigger, using the digital download world that was never available to those of us who were twenty-somethings and only armed with a £100 Fender rip-off a mere ten years ago. I ooze jealousy for the opportunities that Web 2.0 presents for these and others.

    A wee mention though for Duke Special. He has his detractors. But anyone who saw any of his Five Nights At The Empire gigs, or his wee do at St George’s before Christmas (with a lovely version of “Orangefield”), have to admit that this fella is going places. It’s just where he’s going that I wonder about. Bubbling under, he really has to burst through now, while some modicum of momentum is there.

    Ken, did you make the (re)opening night at the Ulster Hall?

  • The Raven

    PS…does anyone else think Snow Patrol are really fuckin’ dull???

  • Scaramoosh


    As part of broadening your tastes, you may like this online music site that is devoted to the independent scene in the US –

  • Great post. I definitely think the Knowly Knights will be one to watch in the future.

    Other local bands of note would include Not Squares and the Panama Kings. (Listen to Yeah! my song of last year) (a bit like Sunset Rubdown, Wolf Parade)

    Also, you should check out “Hard to beat”, a Norn Iron music documentary voiced by Stuart Bailey. It’ll be on iplayer until Fri midnight.

  • kensei

    The Raven

    No >_<. The tickets sold out ludricously fastand I didn't catch it until much too late. I was not a happy bunny. I can't get on with Duke Special. Every time I see him all I think of is that he needs his bloody hair cut. As for Snow Patrol, the best thing I ever hear don them was "I didn't know biege was a type of music". I'll give them the odd decent track. Scarmoosh I typically just like to random through the internet in search of new music; so I am well aware of things like Pitchfork and the Hype Machine. I can do one of these with an extend reach, if there is demand.