Sound of Belfast: Getting to Know with Leah McFall- Oh Yeah Centre

After months of anticipation, Sound of Belfast has finally arrived and what a perfect event to start it all off, ‘Getting to Know with Leah McFall’. A festival dedicated to showcasing everything that’s great about local music Sound of Belfast also helps to provide a platform for artists, bands and performers. ‘The Getting to Know’ event which has been part of a regular series at the Oh Yeah gives artists and bands an opportunity to connect with an audience in a more personal and intimate environment. As well as performing songs the artist is able to give insights behind the writing and recording process of each track and allows the audience to become involved by asking them to participate.

For the special ‘Sound of Belfast’ edition of ‘Getting to Know’ we were treated to the remarkably talented Leah McFall. After capturing the nation’s attention with her mesmerising voice in BBC’s ‘The Voice’, Leah has spent the last few years crafting her own sound and style. Her rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I will Survive’  helped to demonstrate Leah’s powerful vocal prowess and secured her runner up in the show. Leah who released her debut six track E.P ‘Ink’ back in March is currently working on brand new material for her next record. 

The evening which was hosted by the very charming Emer Maguire made everyone feel immediately at ease as we settled in for the show. For her first song of the night Leah performed her track ‘Language’ which was very accurately described by Emer as vocal acrobatics. Starting off the discussion by asking how Leah would describe her music to someone who hasn’t heard it there is a lovely relaxed atmosphere in the room.

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Not only asking questions, Emer also provided entertainment throughout the evening with a few games. As well as involving the audience and developing a good rapport with them the games also helped us find out a bit more about Leah. Learning that Leah had not only eaten grass before but that she had also practiced kissing ‘Michael Jackson’ on his ‘Bad’ CD left everyone not only laughing but definitely feeling as though we knew her a bit better. 

With an audience of both new and older fans the crowd was transfixed for her second song of the evening, ‘Wolf Den’. The song which Leah describes as incredibly emotional and about her journey to becoming an independent artist is flooded with sentiment. The song truly emphasises Leah’s unique vocal ability as she flawlessly’s moves from one note to the next.


Leah’s final performance for the evening was an unreleased track that she has been working on ‘On My Own’ and was the perfect song to end the night. 
Emer Maguire’s completely natural sense of humor along with her charisma made the night thoroughly enjoyable. ‘Getting to Know’ is a wonderful event where you come away really feeling as if you got a personal insight to one your favourite performers. Despite, being very well known Leah was incredibly warm and open and just genuinely good craic, making it a really fun event for everyone involved.

 

Album Review: John Deery and the Heads- ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’

Permanent fixtures of the NI music scene since their inception in 2010, John Deery and the Heads have become craftsmen of the perfect anthemic folk song. Instantly creating a buzz amongst the Irish gigging scene with their debut album Smoke and Mirrors, they have continued to generate the same thrill over the last seven years. Originally formed by lead singer John Deery who along with the addition of the Heads have accumulated a loyal legion of fans and supporters.

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Successfully launching a crowdfunding campaign earlier this year assisted the band in reaching their financial target to record their third studio album. The campaign saw over 100 people contribute to the creation of their latest album ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’. As a lovely gesture to fans that helped support their album, the artwork features the names of every Crowdfunding supporter.

The band’s third studio album ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’ is a wonderful journey through the bands eclectic influences which they seamlessly showcase on the ten tracks. Opening with their title track, the heartfelt lyrics supported by Deery’s gentle delivery and delicate drums makes it an impassioned and sentimental song. The high spirited anthem is accompanied by a swelling and uplifting chorus ensuring that you are left humming it days later. It is a beautiful opening track and helps to set the foundations for the rest of the album.

‘Just Kids’ is a wistful analogy on the passing of time with a yearning for everything to remain how it is. Leading the song in the shape of a poetic troubadour John Deery is a charismatic and charming front man. The insightful lyrics accompanied by soothing guitar chords make the song easy listening with undertones of a bittersweet sadness. The incredibly uplifting ‘Circles’ helps to showcase Deery’s rich vocals with gorgeous layered harmonies. It is a sophisticated song with twinkling guitar and the added instrumentation helps make it something special.

Closing their album with ‘Fall Apart (Moth into a Flame)’ it feels as though we have come full circle as the band offer us yet another consummately constructed folk song. There is strong consistency throughout the whole album with a variety of laid back and chilled out songs. ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’ is thoroughly enjoyable throughout and is the sort of record that before you realise it you’ve got to end becoming completely immersed from start to finish.

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The bands revered stomping acoustic style and dedication to the local music scene has proved to be hugely influential and inspirational to a number of fans and critics. John Deery and the heads have managed to create a collection of songs that are both epic and intimate with personal lyrics and rousing instrumentation. With songs that are so raw and authentically fragile, ‘Nothing Permanent Lasts’ is a harmoniously and emotionally significant offering of an album.

Nothing Permanent Lasts’ will be officially released on the 30th of September 2017 with a launch event in the Nerve Centre, Derry.

10 things all Stendhal virgins need to know.

10 things all Stendhal virgins need to know.

Stendhal is incredibly proud that many people have chosen us over the years to be their very first festival experience. The first time you go to a festival an be can eye opening
experience and one that stays with you for a lifetime.

For all Stendhal virgins out there who are worried about what to expect on their first time, here is a list of tips I have picked up over the years. Hopefully, just like I have had the last few years these helpful hints will make sure you have the best festival possible. Whatever happens, what you get up to at Stendhal stays at Stendhal!

1. Camping: While Stendhal isn’t the biggest festival it is certainly growing every year and picking a good site to camp is essential and will help set you up well for the weekend. Having a good collection of friends tents together will not only make sure you’ll have a good weekend but will also minimise your chance of crawling into a complete strangers tent while trying to find your own in the dead if the night. P.S No matter how early you arrive there will always be people there before you.

2. Wellies: Welly boots are both essential and inevitable. I detest wellies but without them I don’t think I could survive the weekend. I even went as far to wrap plastic bags around my feet one year so I could wear my normal shoes before finally admitting defeat and putting them on.

3. Phone Chargers: If you are one of those who likes to snap, text or Instagram every minute of your Stendhal experience then I would highly recommend that you bring a portable charging devise. As well as broadcasting live your every move you never know when you’ll need to make an emergency call for someone to come pick you up. Also having a torch app on your phone will save the day on more than one occasion during the weekend.

4. Water: You will need it and by the bucket load too. As mentioned before there is nothing worse than waking up first thing in the morning, dying of thirst and reaching out only to find more cans. The walk to the stalls to buy some is torture as your mouth is drier than the Sahara desert. So, make a bit of room in your luggage for a two-litre of water and leave some alcohol behind maybe? If only I would ever listen to my own advice

5. Food: Bring all the snacks you can possibly carry for all those hangover munchies. Mines usually consists of several different crisp variety bags because having Tayto in the morning and some Dorito’s in the afternoon makes it feel like you’re having several different meals. And after all variety is the spice of life.

6. Tissues: Either a packet of tissues or baby wipes is a necessity. While Stendhal has some of the cleanest toilets I’ve ever encountered at a festival you will count your blessings you brought them with you at your time of need. I’ve also made some of best friends standing in the toilet queue and handing out tissues. Well, best friends for the whole five mins we are in the queue together anyways.

7. Make a plan: With one of the best festival line-ups this summer it is best to plan out exactly who you want to see. Nothing worse than two of your favourite band’s clashing at the same time and trying to decide which one to miss only to discover it was the best set of their career. However, if you time it right you can see both of them, that is if you’re willing to run the whole length of the field to see them.

8. Warm clothes: All of your warm clothes are a must. One thing I have definitely learned is that my ugliest yet cosiest jumper is usually my best friend at Stendhal. For someone who is cold all the time normally, you think that I would learn my lesson and bring all the jumpers I own, but no I usually end up wearing all of my friend’s coats. Also no matter how warm it is during the day or how hot the weather said it is going to be it is absolutely baltic at night.

9. Don’t be a dickhead: I think no matter what festival you attend there will always be a few people who think it’s really cool to ruin everyone else’s weekend. Weather it’s being too drunk or just not respecting everyone around you, just don’t be that guy. With such a strong focus on being family friendly it is so important to remember that the festival is not just for you and your drunken mates, but for everyone. Stendhal is, after all, a festival that promotes peace, love, art and music so maybe let’s stick to the mantra that they’ve worked so hard to encourage.

10. BE SAFE: Probably the most important rule of any festival is to look after yourself and the ones that are around you. While festivals are an amazing place to let loose please be wary of everyone around you and most importantly make sure you take care of number one.

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: Lore-‘Never Got Over You’

 

Five piece indie folk group, Lore have been on an impressive rise to success over the last few years. Having been nominated for ‘Best Irish Band’ and ‘Best EP’ by the Pure M Awards 2015 for their self-titled debut EP, the group have worked hard for their acclaim. Made up by a diverse collection of musicians the band has managed to bring all their capabilities and influences together to create their unique sound.

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Their second E.P ‘Believe’ which was released in spring 2016 contained their highly acclaimed single, ‘Teenage Kicks’ a cover of the renowned Undertones song.  Following this, the band played numerous UK and Irish festivals as well as supporting well-known acts such as Kila, Ciaran Lavery and Cara Dillion. The band is currently fronted by recognised singer-songwriter Carolann Carlile who is supported by Raymond O’Kane on piano, Luke McCloskey on guitar, Cliodhna McAteer on cello and Rebecca Hall on fiddle.

The band’s latest offering comes in the form of their single ‘I’ll never get over you’ which is a beautiful re-introduction to the group. Taking the listener on a journey with the song, the lyrics tell us a tale of a heartbroken lover.  The group’s name, Lore refers to the art of story-telling or folklore and is something they do incredibly well as a band. Creating emotional and expressive narratives within their songs seems to be second nature to the group as I’m sure this song will tug on a few heart strings.

Singer, Carolann’s stunning vocals help carry this track with the traditional Irish elements to her voice helping add character and sentiment to the song. The romantic yet melancholic lyrics are complemented by the beautiful piano accompaniment, helping to create that Lore magic that they bring to their songs. The quintet who has also been incredibly busy writing and recording their album has teamed up with Pledge Music to offer you exclusive offers to those who help support their release.

As well as their album, Lore will embark on their very first theatre tour this coming summer supporting the spectacular Niamh McGlinchey. Playing dates across Northern Ireland this musical collaboration is something that shouldn’t be missed.

 

Lore:  Tour Dates

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Roe Valley Arts Theatre, Limavady, Sat 24th June

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Black Box, Belfast, Sat 22nd July

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Alley Theatre, Strabane, Sat 19th August

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Bardic Theatre, Donaghmore, Sat 23rd September

Lore & Niamh McGlinchey – Market PlaceTheatre, Armagh Sat 18th November

 

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