Live Review: Rebekah Fitch- The Mac, Belfast.

A cornerstone of Belfast’s arts and music scene right in the heart of the Cathedral Quarter, performing at ‘The Mac’ for many artists represents a distant dream. For burgeoning alt pop starlet, Rebekah Fitch not only did she achieve her goal in what many would still describe as the infancy of her career, but she made it look easy. That is not to discredit all the months of hard work leading up to Tuesday’s career defining performance but one that many would have found difficult. A bold move by an any artist Rebekah Fitch proved that for some, taking a risk and refusing to let anyone tell you what you can achieve is exactly what the moment called for.

Opening the evening’s event is Derry’s resident songbird, Reevah. Earnestly taking her place at the front of the stage she begins her set with ‘Spaces’. Tender lyrics and even softer vocal tones are delivered in a calmly iridescent hue to a very receptive audience. A relatively new song, ‘Older Now’ is performed in a lower register than we are used to hearing Reevah sing.  Proving a welcomed change, it helps to highlight Reevah’s impressive vocal range and intensify her dreamy aesthetic. Often, it seems as though acts feel pressure to move hurriedly through their set but Reevah has this ability to make it feel as though time is standing still with her pensively poised performance.

Inviting the rest of her band to the stage they begin with the ever atmospheric and riveting ‘Nights. Instantly changing the dynamic, we are treated to amplified adaptations of Reevah’s songs, enhancing the folky simplicity. A culmination of both Reevah’s pop and country instincts, Runaway’ is elevated with dynamic drums and crooning guitar. The openness of the Mac’s downstairs theatre provides the perfect space for Reevah’s amplified voice to float through the audience. New song ‘26’ which will be released at the end of the month is particularly poignant and I believe marks the new era of Reevah’s journey as a songwriter. Closing her set with ‘Daydreamer’ the song builds to its dramatic conclusion with Reevah’s typical high and haunting vocal melodies.

A brief break ensures the audience return eager for the performance to begin. The stage shrouded in darkness adds to the suspense as playful lights bounce across the theatre and set the scene. Emerging onto the stage with her trademark soaring vocal, Rebekah both looks and acts every bit the self- assured popstar. Moving with coolness towards the front of the stage she takes her position at the keyboard. Starting her set with ‘Another Show’ it is immediately obvious that this is anything but another typical performance. An explosion of pop perfection the sound begins to swell, flooding the auditorium with the assistance of her impressive band.

Gliding through her set to ‘Fake Smiles’ the high drama and quintessential pop drum beat all serve to emphasise her defining emotional vocal. Brand new song ‘Poison’ considers all those outside influences that have managed to gain power over our true purpose. A creatively charged rendition of the song the ominous undertones add a little darkness to the otherwise bright affair. Surprising the audience by surging into ‘Gimme Shelter’ by the Rolling Stones the song is sustained by rumbling drums and roaring vocals. 

Introducing new track ‘Enigma’ Rebekah moves away from her keyboard weaving in and around the stage. A visceral force of nature it’s not hard to imagine her holding down even bigger venues with her fiery stage presence. With the band briefly leaving the stage we are left with just Rebekah and her string ensemble.  A poignant performance of ‘Afraid of the Light’ there is a profound passion in her vocal which along with the strings is simply beautiful. Similar to a lot of Rebekah’s songs the lyrics are introspective and carry a raw sentiment through to the audience. The band return just in time for ‘Need to Feel’ and again we are re-introduced to the beguiling stage show.

Leaving the stage in darkness the same way she began the reaction from the audience is a crowd desperate for more. Returning for an encore Rebekah sincerely thanks the audience for one of the best nights of her life. Leaving us with a message of hope, she begins ‘Hosanna’ and has a similar feel to being present at a religious homily both musically and lyrically. Ending in epic fashion with ‘Love So Crazy’, Rebekah receives a much-deserved standing ovation from the audience for her whole performance. A majestic affair with one of Northern Ireland’s most auspicious hopefuls, it is a triumph in every sense of the word. There is always a moment in an artist’s career when it becomes clear that they are destined for bigger things, tonight in the Mac was Rebekah Fitch’s.

Derry’s finest rock band return as Sugarwolf.

Announcing their brand-new name, Derry based trio Sugarwolf are rapidly building anticipation and intrigue around upcoming shows. Rising from the ashes of former band Making Monsters the band have returned with a new name, sound and attitude. Originally formed in 2011 the band navigated their way through several line-up changes before finding success both locally and throughout the UK.

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No strangers to the DIY graft of the Irish and UK rock scenes, Sugarwolf previously released all their music independently. Juxtaposing the two sides of their new distinctive sound, Sugarwolf, represents both the rock-oriented side as well as having a melodic and pop base. Led by front woman Emma Gallagher the band previously secured a reputation as one of Ireland’s most exciting rock outfits and plan to continue to do so.

Following a multitude of successful releases, they received extensive airplay on BBC Radio One, Across the Line, Kerrang Radio and others. In support of their last record ‘Bad Blood’ in 2016 the band performed at Camden Rocks Festival in London and the BBC Introducing Stage at T in The Park. Sharing the stage with the likes of Black Peaks, Young Guns, Fightstar, We Came As Romans, and Skindred helped earn the band the reputation as one of the best live acts in Ireland.

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Before going on hiatus their last E.P ‘Bad Blood’ surpassed all expectation, receiving gushing praise from the likes of BBC Radio 1, Kerrang! Magazine, Rock Sound, Metal Hammer, Team Rock, Scuzz TV and many more. With debut single ‘Better’ picking up spins from Daniel P Carter and Phil Taggart with their video also being to the main playlists for both Kerrang! TV and Scuzz TV.

Sugarwolf are set to release their brand-new single at the beginning of 2019 accompanied by an even bigger and better live sound and set-up.

E.P Review: Don’t Fear the Natives- ‘Stupid Heart’

Fresh from supporting Welsh rockers ‘Feeder’, Donegal six piece ‘Don’t Fear the Natives’ have released their debut E.P ‘Stupid Heart’. After initially performing and releasing music as duo ‘Palomino’, singer Claire McDaid and guitarist Denis Kelly wanted to expand their live performance. Eventually progressing into a full band with the addition of extra members ‘Don’t Fear the Natives’ is the next chapter in their musical journey. Along with their enhanced line-up the band officially launched ‘Stupid Heart’ at the Buncrana Music Festival in June and have slowly built momentum with several shows.

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Opening their E.P with title track ‘Stupid Heart’ singer Claire McDaid takes the lead with an impassioned vocal. Exploring the anguish of a broken heart throughout the song the lyrics seem to touch on personal experience. As the song progresses McDaid’s vocals are supported by a flurry of soaring guitars adding an angsty feel to the alt-rock track. Taking a change in pace with a softer more delicate guitar ‘This Tide Will Turn’ is a wistful and contemplative song.

Just Talk to Me’ is again a gentler track by the Natives with thoughtful lyrics as each song has explored the tenuousness of relationships and the varying emotions you experience through them. Completing the E.P  with ‘Another Lonely Day’ the song which was premiered on Electric Mainline with Stephen McCauley is a melancholic and melodic track for the band to end their first full release. Showcasing their range of diverse influences throughout ‘Don’t Fear the Natives’ demonstrate how they can move from a full bodied alt-rock to a more tender relaxed sound. The ‘Stupid Heart’ E.P is a substantial offering for a debut and leaves room for the band to continue to grow for future releases.

Stupid Heart’ will be available from all digital stores from the 27th of July

-Aine Cronin-McCartney

Interview: POP RIOT with Aoife Costello

Derry’s fashion landscape will be getting a lovely revamp in the next few weeks with the opening of local entrepreneur, Aoife Costello’s business POP RIOT. Passionate about bringing something new and distinct to her growing customer base, Aoife has been working hard to take her business to the next level. Offering a range of services and products, POP RIOT’s online website has allowed customers to browse and buy from the comfort of their own home. However, with the brand going through a complete renovation customers will soon be able to peruse products in store.

The brands’ avant-garde, pop theme instils the feeling of rebellion against the conventional girly trends we see today and is reflected in the clothes, handbags and quirky accessories offered. Currently balancing both work and study, Aoife explains where the inspiration for her business came from  “Since being in retail I have always been fashion conscious, consistently keeping up to date with trends I am never done updating my own wardrobe. I suppose that instigated my passion to start my own retail business.”

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Previously studying for her undergraduate degree in sociology and psychology, it was while working part-time in Topshop that fuelled her love for fashion. Yet, never deterred from her academic studies, Aoife went on to study for her masters which she is currently completing. With a strong background in retail and fashion as well as academia there was an element of doubt on whether to pursue teaching or start her own business. However, once her online business began to take off there was no going back. “Honestly, being at Uni whilst working part -time as a teenager had me constantly wavering in decisions. I was torn between teaching and launching my own business, however once my online business flourished, it definitely validated my hopes for the future.”

Spending a lot of time brainstorming for the perfect name Aoife originally came up with the idea of ‘Queenz Dreamz’ before settling on ‘Royal Riot’ to initially launch her business. However, when going to register the name she soon discovered that it was practically impossible to register a business with the word Royal without permission. Taking this in her stride she met with her PR manager, Lorna and after some consulting they decided on POP RIOT as the official name of the business. Using online and social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook to originally introduce her brand to an audience, Aoife was overwhelmed by the response. “Since I launched POP RIOT as a brand the response has been overwhelming. People are incredibly supportive and their ongoing support means a great deal.”

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After watching the success of her online business and her following on social media grow, Aoife decided it was time to take her business one step further. Approaching a local investment company she pitched her idea, where they noted the passion she had for her brand. The investment company then, subsequently, decided to help her build her business by providing her with a kick-start loan. An incredibly hard working and determined individual Aoife explains that it has been tough at times to balance everything “Balancing both work and study is most certainly challenging at times, especially with my dissertation underway. However, I’m extremely lucky to have such a strong network of support from family and friends. Future goals keep me focused and undeterred but it’s important to have help”.

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Proving, that if you want something and are dedicated you can achieve it regardless of the obstacles, Aoife’s success has been a direct result of hard-work and determination. As someone who strongly believes that if you want something hard enough you can do anything you want, Aoife explains, “I feel that if you have the determination to see it through, then there are resources that can be utilised in the town that allow you to do this. Companies such as Invest N.I, run a ‘go for it’ programme that enables aspiring entrepreneurs to excel in their passion. The support is there, however people must be made aware that it’s available.”

Aiming to not only create a store but a strong inclusive brand, Aoife hopes to provide both great customer service and great products while including customers in the POP RIOT world. Recently welcoming blogger, Angelina Kelly, and make-up artist Catriona Fleming the store will offer the full POP RIOT experience to customers both in and outside of the store. Despite, only being in operation for a short time POP RIOT is already proving incredibly successful. The brand’s unconventional transfusion of quirky and fun accessories along with its bold clothing has helped set it apart it from other shops, giving it a unique edge. POP RIOT will open on Waterloo Street on Saturday 17th of June, be sure not to miss out.

-Aine Cronin-McCartney 

Review: Lost Avenue- E.P ‘Best Friends’

Currently based in Derry, alternative punk three piece, Lost Avenue have delighted fans with the release of their brand new E. P ‘Best Friends’.   Following the success of earlier releases such as ‘Killing Time/Sudden Death’ the trio garnered extensive admiration from Hot Press and Louder than War. Famed for their energetic live performance the band has certainly earned their reputation as a force of nature both on and off stage. Despite it being a while since they have thrilled us with new material, the four track E.P ‘Best Friends’ has certainly been worth the wait.

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Originally forming in 2010, Lost Avenue have firmly established their presence in the local music scene over the past few years. Their last release ‘Killing Time/Sudden Death’ received considerable attention with its premier being played on the Huw Stephens show by BBC Radio One, Phil Taggart.  Supporting the likes of Canadian legends D.O.A, as well as Billy Liar, Carnivores and Goons, the boys have also toured both Ireland and the UK extensively.

Their E.P which opens with ‘Stop it, Jack’ begins with distorted guitar as lead singer Dylan Bradley’s rasping screams are in your face and forceful. There is definitely marked improvement in Bradley’s vocals with his screams being something which he has certainly perfected over the years.  The song then takes an unexpected change in tempo with a more stripped back sound, showing the bands musical maturity after a number of years together. ‘Stop it, Jack’ which was premiered on punknews.org is the perfect introduction to the E.P with a more established sound from the trio.

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The second track ‘Embarrassing Myself’ is pure pop-punk with its sugary sweet melody and while not the most exciting song is an example of what Lost Avenue do best as a band. ‘I’m a Vegetarian (I can’t’ eat that) has a fragmented energy to it, building momentum into a vigorous chorus before again taking a sharp change in direction. The infectious nature of this song means that the more you listen to it the more it grows on you making it the highlight of the E.P.

With a clear pop-punk influence throughout the E.P, the band has also manged to bring in a myriad of other influences as well. Bradley’s vocals are raw, moving effortlessly from screaming to clean singing and are perfectly exhibited on the songs throughout. Finishing off with their title track ‘Best Friends’ the boys have managed to neatly package young adult anguish into this four song E.P. While maybe not as heavy as the others the track still possesses pulsating drums from Michael Brown and is certainly a high point.

Despite being so young, the trio have been a constant over the last seven years which is an achievement in itself and a true testament to the relationship they have with one another. The sense of friendship is something that always comes across very strong with these boys, both live on stage and in their recordings. Currently in the midst of a substantial UK and Irish Tour the boys have been extremely busy performing their new E.P to fans. ‘Best Friends’ was officially released through Rusty Records on April 15th, 2017.

‘Best Friends’ is available through https://rustysrekords.bandcamp.com/album/best-friends

Lost Avenue play:

Apr // 17th// Chelsea Inn // Bristol
w/ The Murderburgers, Billy Liar

Apr // 18th// Bloc + // Glasgow
w/ Goodbye Blue Monday

Apr // 19th// The Actress and Bishop // Birmingham
w/ The Murderburgers, Ducking Punches, Billy Liar

Apr // 20th// Sitwell Tavern // Derby

Apr // 22nd// The Windmill // Brixton, London

Apr // 23rd// Hyde Park Book Club // Leeds
w/ Hora Douse, FRAUEN, Lucinda Livingstone (Kamikaze Girls)

29th// Long Tower Youth club // Derry
w/ TOUTS, Foreign Owl, Mosmo Strange, The Nineteen 80’somethin

Review: Marc Rigney-Exit

-PAXP-deijECurrently based in Derry/Londonderry, local singer songwriter Marc Rigney has been making his mark over the last few years. Having built up quite an extensive following and dedicated fan base Marc has seen his popularity surge throughout the past few months. Releasing his much anticipated first single ‘Exit’, from his forthcoming E.P ‘Daedalus’, fans were finally able to hear what the singer-songwriter has been working on. Recording his E.P at the famed Attica studios in Letterkenny, the space is known for their exceptional acoustic sound which is evident from the track.

Launching his single on the 24th of March, ‘Exit’ received exclusive airplay on Stephen McCauley’s show Electric Mainline. The song begins with a beautifully gentle intro before building into an intense and passionate chorus. This subtly atmospheric song is evocative with Marc’s fervent vocals permeating throughout. Weaving emotion through his lyrics we are taken on a journey with the song finally reaching a powerful conclusion. With Marc’s signature style of fast and folky picking his dexterous flair for playing the guitar is clearly highlighted throughout the track. Moving through the song with raucous and husky tones to more light clean singing helps to show Marc’s multifaceted vocal ability.

Playing the Society Sessions in Belfast’s ‘The Empire’ earlier this week, the night showcases the best of local singer-songwriters.  Having been featured on the extremely popular Music Crowns page as well as Roadie T.V, Marc has been extremely successful in building an audience though his videos. With many things lined up for the summer, Marc certainly has a busy few months ahead of him. If his first single ‘Exit’ is anything to go by, then I can be sure that the full E.P will be just as exceptional when it is released.

Exit is available via spotify and Itunes

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https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/exit-single/id1219034465

Review: WASPS-Future Endeavours

 

Despite, early beginnings WASPS have wasted no time in cementing their position within the Northern Irish music scene. Having a busy and successful year throughout 2016, the duo certainly created a ‘buzz’ supporting the likes of Making Monsters, Sister Ghost and Anto and the Echoes.  After bonding over the fact they both had matching tattoos, Danny McClelland and Charlie Cairns soon realised they had a lot more in common and decided to form a band. This chance encounter at a local gig was to be the beginning of explosive rock-math duo WASPS

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Releasing their first track, ‘Godzilla is dead’, late last year the song was met with a lot of excitement from already eager fans. Helping to add to the hype surrounding the band, the duo recently played their first headline show at Voodoo Belfast. Their new song ‘Future Endeavours’ which was released on March 17th is bursting with energy. With infectious vocals from Danny McClelland coupled with Charlies Cairns impassioned drums ensures that this is going to be WASPS first big hit of the year.

While there is strong hints of their predecessors, ASIWYFA, the addition of McClelland’s punk vocals have helped make the song more accessible to fans. The complex composition of the song with its evolving time signatures and playing has helped highlight the maturity in the bands musicianship.

Working alongside Soluanire Productions the band unveiled their brand new video for Future Endeavours earlier this week. With such significant lyrics both Danny and Charlie wanted to make sure that this was portrayed in the video. Emphasising the message that if you are ever struggling with mental health or any other issues to know that you are not alone and that your friends are here for you.

Check out their  song here !!