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

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.

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

 

Border Exhibition- Void Gallery, Derry

Exhibiting in Void Gallery, Derry on March 28th the Border exhibition is a unique artistic collaboration which will showcase a range of work by an array of female artists.  The project which initially began in February and centered on the theme of borders was an opportunity for women of all backgrounds to come together to make and create work. Over the 28 days each women created work independently with the group meeting at the end of the month to discuss and share their work with each other.

The project was originally created as a tribute to Helen Harris, who was a feminist, community activist and a writer mainly of short stories. Helen sadly passed away in 2011, at the age of 39 from cystic fibrosis, in her memory a donation was made for a workshop to take place in the arts and/or writing in her name. The donation was made by the mother of one of Helen’s closest friends, Sara and from there; the idea for the 28 day project was formed.

Leading the project is Sorcha Boyle who is a local practicing artist as well as a volunteer at Void Gallery. Working primarily as assistant producer on Void Artbits, which is a video review series that aims to widen social engagement with visual art. Growing up surrounded by art and attending exhibitions, Sorcha was accustomed with contemporary art from a young age. Inspired by the environment she grew up in, Sorcha went on to study art at Ulster University before graduating with a first class honours from Manchester School of Art in photography.

Explaining who she is influenced by now Sorcha says “The artists I am inspired by now are mostly video/installation artists and photographers. I am a big fan of video and installation artists Pipilotti Rist and Laure Prouvost and Patrick Bokanowski, and photographers Rinko Kauwachi and Nico Krijno. I like art that takes the everyday and makes it into something different and other-worldly, which is something I try to do in my own work.

The first meeting which took place in the Women’s Centre on the 1st of February had a great response with women of all ages attending. The significance of the project beginning on the 1st of February, it is that is the Feast of Brigid, the Celtic goddess of fertility, and the first day of spring in the Celtic calendar. Choosing this period for the project to begin helped add an extra element of meaning as not only does it symbolise new life and rebirth but also the lunar cycle in February.

Overwhelmed by the initial response to the event Sorcha explained The reaction to the project has been brilliant, we had a lot of interest from women of all ages and I was really overwhelmed to see as many as 20 women at the first meeting. I think the response to the project shows how necessary it is for projects like these to take place, for people to have a space to come together express themselves and share their ideas.”

With such a varied group of women from all different backgrounds, disciplines and talents the theme of ‘Borders’ was put in place to allow for a common goal.  The theme of ‘Borders’ which is a very relevant topic worldwide helped provoke a lot of thought and discussion despite whether the artists decided to approach their theme literally or not in the work.  With such a lack of creative opportunities for anyone in Northern Ireland wishing to pursue a career in the creative arts, the 28 Day project was welcomed by everyone involved.

The project has been a wonderful initiative that has helped bring women together to create dialogue on the issues that we face today. Creating a space for women to reflect and make work based on their own experience with emphasis on the process of making work rather than the finished piece.  Facilitator Sorcha explained that Derry is full of creative people, but the problem is that most of them need to move elsewhere to make a living. I would love to see more creative opportunities being created for young people in the city, because there is so much potential here.”

With such a straightforward concept the 28 day project certainly has potential to run as an annual event and hopefully grow in popularity. Passionate about involving people in the arts with such a positive outcome Sorcha explains how she hopes the project can continue.  “I want to continue to get involved in projects that widen engagement with the arts or that confront social issues through art, it’s something that I’m really passionate about and would love to do more of. Again it’s about creating the opportunity and space for a dialogue to take place.

The Border Exhibition opens on the 28th of March at Void Gallery, Derry and will continue until April 5th.

Review: Remembering Stevie Martin-The Nerve Centre, Derry.

Saturday night saw The Nerve Centre, Derry return to its old days of glory with a packed out venue for what was an extremely poignant and emotional night. While there were many venues that could have hosted this event, the Nerve Centre for myself and I’m sure many others is a place of significance. The first venue I ever attended and the place where my love for the local music scene began it was truly lovely to see it full to capacity for such a special night. Arranged by close friend Eilish Kelly the touching tribute also helped raise a significant amount for Pieta House a charity who provides help to people who are in suicidal distress or those who engage in self-harm. Electric Mainline host Stephen McCauley who had been given the honours of presenting the evening was the perfect choice as everyone gathered to remember Stevie Martin.

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Entering the venue to an already packed crowd, I arrive just on time to catch John Deery and the Heads. Although, it has been a while since I had the pleasure of seeing this band, I am instantly reminded of why they are so admired. Their laidback vibe was transcendent as everyone in the main room was relaxed and enjoying themselves. Lead singer Deery is an extremely modest and friendly frontman, making their performance all the more enjoyable.  Joining the band on stage, SOAK arrives for a poignant performance as they pay tribute to Rainy Boy Sleep.

As there was music occupying both venues I moved across to the next room to try and catch Waldorf and Canon. Unfortunately, I am stopped at the door only to be told that the room is too packed. The band who also performed the night before in Sandino’s proved that fans just can’t get enough of the duo. Despite, my initial disappointment of not being allowed in it has certainly been a while since I have been told that any of the rooms in the Nerve have been too packed and was a welcome change.

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Next up on the main stage was Glenn Rosborough who accompanied only by a drummer opens his set with then ‘Someday you Gonna be Someone’.  Glenn’s haunting vocals always provoke a reaction with audiences as everyone in the venue becomes engrossed in his performance.  Glenn who is currently working on a new album has been relentless force in the Irish music scene over the last few years. I think anyone who has ever seen Glenn is of the same opinion that his boundless and raw talent particularly lyrically is incredible.

At this point the venue is buzzing and is reminiscent of past gigs when Stevie would have played to packed out such as the Nerve. Helping to bring a change of pace and liven up the crowd, Making Monsters take to the stage. While on the heavier side of the spectrum in comparison to some of the other acts on the bill the band certainly woke the crowd up. Despite, being a constant on the scene for the last five years it’s always amusing to see an audience being blown away by the power and prowess of this band. Lead singer Emma Gallagher’s colossal range accompanied by the band’s contagious rock sound has created the perfect fusion of noise. Playing new song ‘Secrets’ with its incredibly catchy chorus and huge sound ensures that this song is on route to become a huge hit

With both rooms full to capacity at this stage the Wood Burning Savages were treating the audience to quite the experience across the hall. The band have an amazing ability to create a surge of energy no matter what stage they grace with their hammering drums and pulsating songs. With the bands signature punk-centric sound and lead singer Paul Connolly’s raw vocals it is no wonder that they have garnered a famed live reputation. Connolly even managed to climb onto someone’s shoulders while entertaining a charmed crowd who couldn’t be ceased dancing.

Finally the headliners of the night ASIWYFA take to the stage, it’s been a while since the band have graced Derry with their presence and it’s a wonderful welcome home. Having cemented their reputation one the most formidable live acts in the country I couldn’t think of a better choice for a headline act. Playing a track of Stevie’s while the band accompanies it is an incredibly emotional and moving moment. Raising the roof I take a good look around the room, there are a lot of tears, smiles and people just breathing in this extraordinary moment and won’t be one forgotten soon.

Saturday’s gig was a special night for a few reasons. First, for anyone who was in attendance it was abundantly clear how immensely talented we are here in Northern Ireland. Secondly, it was lovely to see so many friends who would have originally met going to local gigs reconnecting. As Stephen McCauley said in his speech music is about having a tribe and we all must look after one another.  Thirdly, remembering how amazing it used to be to go to The Nerve Centre or any gig and being excited by music. I still remember going to see Stevie there just a few years ago and the buzz circulating around the venue was infectious. And lastly to celebrate the life of someone who through some way or another weather it was his music or just Stevie being himself had moved and touched so many lives.

Well done to everyone involved it was a truly special night.

-Aine Cronin-McCartney