Single Review: Conor Marcus- ‘No More Broken Hearts’

Fast rising star Conor Marcus excels on new track ‘No More Broken Hearts’, as he takes us through a journey of loss and acceptance. The young performer who is regarded as one of Northern Ireland’s most promising young singer/songwriters follows his previous release ‘Hold Me Close Again’ with another emotive pop focused single.

Writing his own material since he was nine years old, it wasn’t until inspiration struck at 12 with ‘The Girl I Met’ that Conor acknowledged his song-writing ability. A year later, he performed the song on ITV’s The Voice Kids UK during the blind auditions, where along with his mentor Danny Jones from McFly he went on to reach the semi-finals.

Having already conquered so many achievements Conor is also currently the youngest participant of the renowned ‘Scratch My Progress’ programme. All of which has helped him build a fervent following as he continues to reach new heights of success.

‘No More Broken Hearts’ signals a more mature approach to song-writing as Conor makes moves into new ambitious themes and music. With each of Conor’s releases comes an indication that this is a newcomer to be taken seriously. A breezy moving melody combined with a charming vocal that is supported by animated pop beats helps give the track a cool and effortless vibe.  

Speaking about the track, Conor said; “This song is about dealing with the loss of someone close to you. It was inspired by the passing of my granny, many years before I was born, when my mother was just 15. I’ve been working on the song for a long time and I’m really happy with how it’s turned out.”

You can check Conor Marcus’s new track ‘No More Broken Hearts’ here.

Single Review: Jessica Hammond-Ugly

Northern Irish singer-songwriter and producer Jessica Hammond’s debut single ‘Ugly’ is a savvy, confident pop hit with a cool charm. Working alongside co-producer Matty Graham the pair have created a lively summer earworm filled with modern sensibilities.   

The presence of exciting and slick production elements has anchored the song as an irresistible holiday nightclub groove. Throughout the track Hammond reflects about falling in love with someone that does not possess the best characteristics, a relatively relatable concept.  

Hammond’s sound presents all the makings of a contemporary emerging pop artist with their finger on the pulse. A track to enjoy and dance to through isolation, Hammond’s debut helps to position her as one to watch with ‘Ugly’ sure to appeal to a wide demographic.

Aine Cronin-McCartney

Video Premiere: JACK RUA X LOGUOS- ‘EGO’

A pop music match made in heaven…

Innovative queer pop artist Jack Rua and Dublin based producer LOGUOS have released the video to their pulsating pop song ‘Ego’. Merging the performative flair of Jack Rua with the effortlessly slick production of LOGUOS the duo have managed to create an utterly infectious summer dance floor filler.

Released just after Gay Pride festival in Dublin on July 5th, ‘Ego’ has already elicited an excited response from industry with airplay on 2fm with Tara Stewart and Dan Hegarty. The video which has been developed by PureGrand (Luke Faulkner) is crisp and contemporary matching the sultry tone and vibe of the track.

Embracing theatrics in his performance and musical stylings, Jack Rua has been carving his own space in the music industry that is inherently authentic. After graduating from BIMM Dublin in 2016, Jack immersed himself in the music, drag, burlesque and art scenes of New York City, absorbing them and allowing them to inform his own art.

High energy, euphoric electronics and bountiful vocals has helped to make ‘Ego’ a lusciously seductive track from a pop music match made in heaven.

You can check out the video below.

By Aine Cronin-McCartney

Single Review: Alice LA-Flowers and Florentines

Alternative pop chanter Alice LA’s brand new single ‘Flowers and Florentines’ has provided the perfect step into spring. Having certainly secured a reputation for producing inspired content the Banbridge native has been a welcomed breath of fresh air in a sometimes-predictable musical landscape. Currently a part of The Oh Yeah Music Centre’s prestigious Scratch My Progress programme which focuses on talent development it has been energising watching Alice progress over the year.

A refreshing and joyous opening the overtly pop vocal feels like a warm friendly breeze before reaching the grandeur of the chorus As with Alice’s previous singles there is a thrilling high with sharp expressive lyrics supporting a song that will resonate long after you’ve finished listening to it. The expanded sound and pulsating beat along with the gale force power of LA’s vocal has truly cemented ‘Flowers and Florentines’ as a modern pop presence.

Aine Cronin-McCartney

Album Review: The Wood Burning Savages- Stability.

Rebel rousers, ‘The Wood Burning Savages’, released their highly anticipated album ‘Stability’ to the world on Friday the 27th of April. Persistent purveyors of punk since 2013 the band have become a relentless force of energy on the music scene. ‘Stability’ which was produced by Rocky O’Reilly in Start Together Studios, Belfast, is the band’s first full length album and follows a string of single releases.

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Opening title song ‘Stability’ is short in stretch but ferocious in nature and at just over two minutes is a sharp starting track. Bass player Dan Acheson drives the song along with lead singer Paul Connolly’s use of the words security and stability making it evidently clear the bands gritty political agenda for the rest of the album.

The anthemic ‘I Don’t Know Why I do it to Myself’ is a stark observation about the terrifyingly high rate of suicide in the Savages own hometown of Derry. Despite it’s serious nature it’s fast paced and funky while showcasing the bands ability to create stadium sized songs. ‘Purple Heart’ explores post-traumatic stress disorder and elicits a similar sentiment to other album tracks articulated through Connolly’s expressive lyrics.


‘Living Hell’
is fast and furious with a fierce riot of relentless guitars and pounding drums and one of the most intense songs on the album. Closing track ‘Freedom of Movement’ starts slow and builds in emotion and momentum. The anger and frustration in Connolly’s voice is clear as he cries “Freedom of movement well I don’t think that’s what she meant”. Capturing perfectly the unease and apprehension facing all of us in light of Brexit it is a strong and poignant track to end their album.

Passionate about inflicting real change through their music ‘The Wood Burning Savages’ album is ten-tracks of fury, anxiety, angst and rage. Attempting to not only challenge various establishments but provoke movement among one another ‘Stability’ has provided fans with their very own WBS manifesto.  While the message and themes remain wholly the same there is enough variation throughout to keep fans listening.  A triumphant debut album, ‘Stability’, is bursting with recognisable political reflections preformed with musical and lyrical conviction.

The Wood Burning Savages play the Limelight Belfast on 27th May with Wynona BleachMolly Sterling & Waldorf & Cannon.

Album Review: Susie Blue- Didn’t Mean to Care

Derry based band Susie Blue have released their highly anticipated album, ‘Didn’t Mean to Care’.  The album is a carefully crafted collection of songs which the band has been writing and playing over the past few years. The self- reflective title ‘Didn’t Mean to Care is an ode to lead singer Susan’s teenage years after coming out. Chronicling her past relationships, both bad and good, the ten tracks have come together to make a refreshingly pop centered album.

After an astonishingly successful 2017 with numerous festival appearances including Glastonbury, the quartet are on track to out-do themselves with the release of their debut album. Opening the album with ‘Lisbeth’ the song is a strong indie rock track with a certain gravitas in the lyrics as Susie sings ‘I’m not asking you to die for me, only asking if you would’. Anthemic in nature and sound ‘Lisbeth’ is sure to be a stand out song in the bands live set and is a compelling opening track. Followed by ‘She’s a Keeper’ the album moves seamlessly with Susan’s signature and tender vocal tone carrying the song to fruition.

May Ninth’ is an inspired alt-rock song with enthused and pulsating percussion keeping the vibe of the album upbeat. Having embodied the role of the angsty and troubled purveyors there is still feeling of hope throughout many of Susie Blues songs. Unafraid to put their own twist on songs or be unconventional ‘Doing My Head In’ is a bracing take on a usual love song.

Already showcasing the bands rockier side, we reach the midpoint of the album with two slower acoustic songs ‘Till You Started’ and ‘Trust Me’. The aching and hypnotic lyrics are expressed by Susan’s invigorated vocals and are a nice change of pace. The album’s title track ‘Didn’t Mean to Care’ begins cool and composed before building into a rousing and stirring chorus. The anguished lyrics which are a redeeming feature throughout are particularly poignant on this track as we hear the cry of ‘I don’t to live to keep on dying’.

 

The albums closing track ‘No Shade’ oozes pop rock melodies and is possibly my favourite on the record. An eclectic collection of songs, it is the bands passion and fervour that truly shines throughout. It is undeniable that Susie-Blue’s popularity is at its peak after securing necessary support through a successful GoFundme campaign. The band who have used their position to create a powerful dialogue with politically motivated tracks have created an important piece of music that will stand the test of time. The release of ‘Didn’t Mean to Care’ has helped to truly cement Susie Blue’s position throughout the UK and Irish music scene.

-Aine Cronin-McCartney

Shizznigh Presents: The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan, No Oil Paintings, Aidan Logan and Whale Talk.

For their third Sound of Belfast gig, Shizznigh Promotions managed to put together another sublime line-up of performers. Consisting of new and established acts for a brilliant week night expedition to the Empire it certainly motivated a lot of people to come out in full force. Starting the night off is Whale Talk who despite being a fairly new band have been making a considerable breakthrough on the NI scene. They are the perfect band to help introduce and begin the evening with delicate harmonies and casual indie vibes.

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Up next is singer-songwriter Aidan Logan who has brought a full band with him for the night. Recently returning from Nashville where Aidan spent his time writing, recording and soaking in all that Tennessee has to offer. Very charming and confident on stage, Aidan immediately attempts to build a good rapport with the audience by telling them anecdotes about his songs and travels. His song ‘Higher’ is an incredibly catchy and infectious song and is the highlight of the set. Having spent so much time in Nashville it’s evident how much Aidan has been influenced by country throughout his set while also putting his own twist on songs . Towards the end of his set Aidan takes a moment to dedicate a song to his friend Margaret who just passed away ‘Seems You Better Go’. As the rest of the band step aside it’s just Aidan and his guitar accompanied by soft and gentle piano and is a beautiful tribute.

Four piece ‘No Oil Paintings’ arrive next on stage and begin their set with ‘God Only Knows’. Lead singer Chris Kelly’s vocals sound immediately strong and powerful accompanied with George Sloan’s solid drums makes for a bold entrance from the band. Their second track ‘Cut Me’ has guitarist Sean Doone take the lead for vocals with a deeper and darker tone to his voice adding a melancholic element to the song. Finishing the set with their latest single ‘Icarus’ which the boys have also just released a video for the song begins with gorgeous harmonies. There is a really good synergy between all the members on stage and you can truly feel the connection that they not only have as musicians but as friends. The biggest triumph for any band is to be able to sound better live than they do on track and this is certainly true for No Oil Paintings.

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Finally the main act of the night, The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan takes to the stage with No Oil Paintings joining for the band’s debut gig. Inhabiting the full character of Dr Hannigan, Tony Wright appears with a top hat and long coat and it’s clear from the start that not only are we in for a musical treat but a theatrical performance as well. With so many people onstage it felt like a huge jam session was about to take place with an array of players and instruments.  Dr Hannigan’s first release ‘Hey Little Worried One’ begins with impressive harmonies before the hypnotic drum beat kicks in. There is an electric atmosphere in the Empire as the audience become increasingly more and more excited as the band continue.  

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There were points during the set that I felt as though I had been transported to a real blues bar located in Louisiana as my senses were completely overwhelmed by the incredibly funky ‘We Can’t Breathe’. Inviting Steven McCartney to the stage for the slowest song of the night ‘You the bottle and me’, Tony comes right down off the stage into the audience. Making his way over the tops of tables and across chairs it was almost as if the vigour of the crowd had carried him. Inciting the audience to begin chanting, the crowd continue to clap and foot stomp even after the band leaves the stage. Setting the bar for future performances, The Tragedy of Dr Hannigan’s first gig was a truly overwhelming and successful night for a band at any stage of their career never mind one’s debut. 

By Aine Cronin-McCartney
Photos by Ciara McMullan