And So I Watch You From Afar launch OK? Festival in aid of mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

Northern Irish instrumental rock legends And So I Watch From Afar have launched a brand new festival which takes place at the end of March.

OK? Festival is a music and arts festival in support of mental health awareness and suicide prevention. To celebrate community and to encourage asking the question… Are you ok?
The show will be raising money for Aware NI, PIPS, and Help Musicians UK and they’ve gathered up a ridiculous lineup to help do just that. Performing on the night will be:

And So I Watch You From Afar // Soak // General Fiasco
David Holmes // Phil Kieran // Joshua Burnside
New Pagans // Catalan! // Pillow Queens // Junk Drawer
Jordan Adetunji // Careerist // Cherym // Problem Patterns // Gnarkats

The concert takes place in The Telegraph Building on Royal Avenue, Belfast on Saturday 28th March 2020 from 6pm-late. Tickets priced £20 and more information available here.

A few words from the organisers:

“OK? aims to bring us all together in a show of community, love, support and awareness, to check in with one another and ask are we OK?

After suffering a devastating loss at Christmas ASIWYFA and friends partnered with charities Aware NI, PIPS and Help Musicians to raise money for mental health awareness and suicide prevention charities. We have all experienced some level of mental health issue. Anxiety, depression, trauma, the list goes on. Most of us know someone who has died because of these issues and have seen the devastating impact it has on those left behind. OK? aims to help people feel supported and able to reach out for help.

Organizer Rory Friers says – “At times in my life I’ve really struggled with my mental health, the community of music and the celebration of friends has always helped me find my way back. I have my reasons for why I need something like OK? right now, other people will have theirs, so whether you’re coming to this show to support the cause, support the music or to find some support yourself, lets make the the loudest most positive noise we can and remind ourselves that we’re surrounded by people who care”.

Organizer Helen Sloan says – “This event is a necessary coming together, through one of art’s great unifiers – music, to reinforce a sense of community and let everyone know there are available support networks for those in need.”

Aware NI – Lesley Wright, Community Fundraiser in AWARE says “AWARE is delighted to be involved in OK?. We are so pleased to see the musical community coming together in support of mental health in Northern Ireland. We would like to thank all involved in organising the event for choosing to support AWARE. Any funds raised will help us to continue to support people living with depression in Northern Ireland.”

As always it’s great to see artists banding together in support of causes they believe in!

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And So I Watch You From Afar announce 4 Irish tour dates.

Ahead of the release of their fifth studio album, Belfast instrumental rockers And So I Watch You From Afar have announced a string of tour dates this December. The four piece are truly a a sonic force best experienced live. This coupled with the fact that they very rarely tour Ireland means that tickets will likely be in short supply after they go on sale tomorrow morning.

The dates are:

December 28: Academy, Dublin
December 29: Garbo’s, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
December 30: Cyprus Avenue, Cork
December 31: Roisin Dubh, Galway

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PREMIERE: Irish instrumentalist math wizards Yonen release new track, ‘Tokyo’, ahead of UK Tour.

Following in the footsteps of And So I Watch You From Afar, Adebisi Shank, The Redkneck Manifesto, God is an Astronaut and joining the plethora of great instrumental music coming from this island are Yonen.

Yonen are 4 piece instrumental math rock band from Dublin. ‘Tokyo’ is their first official single but they’re no strangers to the live scene having already supported heavyweights such as Toe, TTNG, Overhead the Albatross, and Poly-Math to name but a few.

‘Tokyo’ is being released on the eve of a six date UK Tour this February with one man band/loop pedal purveyor Steve Strong.
The track itself is a 6:55 odyssey, journeying through the streets of Tokyo and seeing the city through the imagination of minds that have never been there. The motif stays fairly similar throughout but is treated to a dizzying array of changes in dynamics and effects, reminiscent of some of Three Trapped Tigers recent efforts, but a lot more jazzy.

Guitarist Cian Finlay told us a little bit about the writing process:

Our songs take place in hyperbolic and fantastical settings. Though Tokyo is a non fictional city, the song is merely capturing the inscape of the word “Tokyo” as an abstract – i.e. what images your mind conjures when you hear the word “Tokyo”.
(PS we’ve never been there so it’s all a lie. Shhhh!)

We see Tokyo as bustling with activity, strobing with vibrant colours, and hinting at a quirky cultural undercurrent. The protagonist (the listener) traverses the city throughout the track, beginning in the suburbs and making their way through to the center. The bustling busy ride patterns increase in activity on the journey in. The vibrant colourful synth tone gradually increases in sustain until exploding into an entirely new palette of colour (harmony).

Then the protagonist is introduced to the cultural quirks through the 8 bit production atop the cheeky melody. As our songs are experimental, it helps to have a well defined narrative of environment during the writing process to keep our piece coherent and consistent. Or, we could just get a singer.

Fun fact: In the first main melody, every mini phrase comprises of 4 notes. (…except for the 5th group…)

Fun fact: the synth tone is actually a bass running through a Zoom B3 Multi Effects Unit. Nice tone Bro.

Fun fact: The two guitarist mixed and produced the song together, and somehow are still friends.

There seems to be some big plans ahead for the single. Alongside the supporting tour of the UK, there will be both a full length animated music video and an interactive game released by the animation/programming team of Ross Ryder and Joey Breslin. These have been designed within the video game engine ‘Unity’ and also feature as the center-piece in the bands live show. The few sneak peeks they’ve given us of the project look very promising.

No Irish dates have been announced yet, but expect to see Yonen on the summer festival circuit later this year.

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race the flux press shot

LISTEN: New single ‘Matty Rusko’ from Galway’s Race the Flux

race the flux wall

Galway band Race the Flux continue on their steady climb to the world stage today with the release of their new single ‘Matty Rusko’.

Our first introduction to Race the Flux came in the form of their 2013 Mini Album ‘Dutch Buffalo’, a no holds barred teeth-gritting-head-banging blend of electronic post rock goodness.  While it’s a brilliant record that really has stood the test of time, it did lean heavily on their influences. The stand out track definitely has to be  ‘Can I?’

For the follow up to ‘Dutch Buffalo’ they enlisted the help of Belfast producer and ex Oppenheimer axeman Rocky O’Reilly in Start Together Studios. Rocky is the man responsible for capturing And So I Watch You From Afar’s blistering live sound and translating it to record.

The difference in production and the progression in the bands songwriting ability was glaringly obvious on last years followup EP ‘Olympians’. There was a real breadth of different styles and dynamic shifts squeezed in to such a small amount of time and songs. ‘Olympians’ really sees Race the Flux coming into their own, shedding their more obvious influences and finding their sound. Check out ‘Olympus Mons’ for a great example of this.

‘Matty Rusko’ is another creative and sonic leap for the band, featuring math rock rhythms juxtaposed with Joe Padfield’s anthemic orating and some really interesting interplay between guitars and bass. This song promises to be a big one for them and will hopefully help to secure them some bigger slots on this summers festival circuit. Having made their Electric Picnic debut last year on the Electric Arena Stage, they’ve now also been longlisted for the  Glastonbury Emerging Talent competition. Luckily, you can catch them sooner and closer than that! They’ll be playing 2 dates in Dublin and Cork over the next 2 months with support from Dublin grunge duo Pranks. There’s also a London headliner thrown in for good measure! Details for the shows are below.

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race the flux pranks matty rusko tour

Shanks For the Memories (-_-)

adebisi shank whelans final shows

Last night I went to Whelans to see Adebisi Shank perform their second last show in Ireland. The math-rock trio have decided to call it a day and true to their form they’ve decided to go out with a BANG. An Album Launch/ last ever show, albeit a strange combination, results in one hell of a party. The venue was packed to capacity and I was shot back in time to their second album launch in this very same room 4 years ago. A lot has changed in 4 years but one thing remains the same, Adebisi Shank are a force to behold. They are epilepsy for the ears, a joyous apocalypse. People rejoiced, soldiers fell in the frenzied pit and were pulled to their feet by the comrades who surrounded them. Shouts of “Take of the mask” went unanswered. Will we ever know what Vinny looks like? Probably. Chants of “one more tune!” morphed into “ten more tunes!” and soon “ten more years!”. They pumped out song after song of vocoder infused tunage that I once heard best described as ‘the sound of spaceships battling’.

As much as we all wanted to deny it, all good things must come to an end. As they announced that the next song would be their last, people got prepared. Battle lines were drawn, pairs of glasses were pocketed and the audience held it’s collective breath. The last hurrah was a blur of bodies and swinging heads, when the band hit the breakdown I vaulted from the stage and was lifted above the crowd. The feeling was hard to describe, a mixture of pure elation mixed with the utter dread of knowing it would all be over soon. As the last note rang out the crowd erupted, screaming for more. But that was it, the end of an era. Adebisi Shank departed, leaving us to bask in the glory of having witnessed a true phenomenon.  That was the end of a band called Adebisi Shank.

Too often Irish bands sputter out, fading into obscurity without telling anyone. Adebisi Shank did it right. Luckily though it’s onwards and upwards for all the members it seems. Lar is making music in the recently renamed All Tvvins (with Conor Adams of The Cast of Cheers fame), Vinny is producing/mixing, working on video games and other cool stuff as VMC Sound, and is also one half of Speed of Snakes (along with Rupert from the mighty Bats). Mick, according to the band, will continue to train for his UFC career! He also heads the Europe wing of Sargent House, the record label which is home to And So I Watch You From Afar, No Spill Blood, Mylets and lots of other amazing acts.

I’ll leave you with some great advice from Adebisi Shanks breakup announcement.

“To any kids starting bands we offer one piece of advice – play music you love, with people you love, for the people you love.

We saw a million faces

Vin, Lar + Mick (-_-) xxx”

So long Adebisi Shank, and Shanks for the Memories….

TMFTML’s Top 20 Acts To Go See at Light Colour Sound

Tomorrow marks the start of the inaugural year of a newcomer to the Irish festival scene, Light Colour Sound. It seems the people behind the new venture in Shankill Castle are not ones to start things of slow because they’ve put together a phenomenal lineup of up and coming (and well established) Irish acts.

LCS LINEUP
So without further adieu, and in no particular order, here are my top 20 bands to make sure you see over the weekend!
The Eskies
I’ve found the best way to describe the Eskies music is ‘Gentleman Pirate Folk’. Silly genre names aside, these lads always put on a hell of a show. Check out this live video from Knockanstockan for a taste of what to expect.

Halves

Halves are a Dublin based ambient electronic rock band known for their eclectic live performances. Their latest album, Boa Howl, is a pleasure to listen to. Expect Flugelhorn, you wont be disappointed!

Raglans

Raglans have been quietly making waves in the Irish scene for a couple of years, releasing fantastic singles like ‘Natives’ and ‘Digging Holes’. Having just released their self titled debut album, those waves are set to get a lot bigger!

The Cold Draw
Formally The Thomas Donoghue Band, the name isn’t the only change that’s happened to this band. After releasing an impressive EP last year, they’ve expanded their instrumentation and arrangements. Live, they produce a pretty epic sound. With their debut album about to drop, get ready to start hearing a lot more about these guys.

Overhead, The Albatross
OTA are quite simply one of the best live bands in the country. It’s a bit like if Mogwai and Pink Floyd headbutted each other really hard. They’ve been teasing us with EP’s and Charity singles for way too long, but having retreated to a forest in the Czech Republic to write and record their debut long player, we shouldn’t have to wait much longer. In the meantime, go see them and get excited!

Wood Burning Savages
Wood Burning Savages are an alternative rock band from Derry. Fresh from their set at the BBC Introducing stage at Glastonbury they’re sure to play a blinder at LCS. Don’t expect to see them in such an intimate setting for long!

Val Normal
Val Normal are a bit like Biffy Clyro if they just kept getting heavier! Last year they released their debut album Plans? What Plans? to critical acclaim and they’ve been gigging absolutely everywhere since. They have their live show down to a T, expect odd time signature changes, and to get confused if you try to dance!

Race The Flux
RTF are synth-infused cocktail of hard rock and Battles-esque rhythm sorcery. They dropped their debut mini-album Dutch Buffalo last year and have since gone on to support superstars Tame Impala in the Olympia Theatre. Bring lasers.

Radioactive Grandma
This Cavan three piece know how to pack a punch armed only with an Acoustic Guitar, Cajon and Bass. There might not be much electricity going into the performance, but there’s a hell of a lot coming out!

All The Luck In The World
ATLITW are a band from Wicklow who have seen a very fast and possibly unexpected rise in popularity after posting some of their work to YouTube. One of the home recorded songs, Never, reached an impressive 70,000 hits without any promotion before being featured on a Trivago advertisement. It’s now sitting pretty on nearly 1.5 million views! But views aren’t that important, so have a listen below and hear for yourself!

Ka tet
Ka tet are a Galway based alternative rock band. Having released their debut album ARCADIA last year the band have been extensively gigging the length and breadth of the country as well as the UK. They put on a pretty fantastic live show, expect to wake up with a bangover!

Dott
Dott are a garage pop band from Galway. Their surf rock infused, harmony driven sound is a delight to experience live. Having just released their debut album Swoon, the band have been touring the US, complete with slots at this years SXSW festival in Texas. Expect to leave smiling widely.
Bagels
From what I’ve heard, the average age of Bagels is around 15. I wish I was making music this good now, these guys are awesome. Have a listen!

We Town Criers
WTC are a Galway based band who’s riffs are stadium worthy. Their debut album Swing Beast is a lesson in rock music. This is the third band in the list to feature drummer Ronan Connaghton(He drums in Ka tet and Race the Flux too), it’s gonna be a busy weekend for him!
New Secret Weapon
NSW(not to be confused with NSFW) have been on the scene for a long time, but until very recently had no recordings to back up their reputation. That has since been remedied with the masterpiece that is their self titled debut album. It’s been met with praise from fans and critics alike, have a listen, it’s easy to hear why!

Enemies
Enemies are a melodic instrumental rock band. Their new album Embark, Embrace is a wholly satisfying listen, with hooks that will dig into your earholes. They’ve just recruited a new drummer, Micheál Quinn (Meltybrains?, Slow Skies). He’s got some big shoes to fill, but having seen him drum in so many different styles so impressively I can’t wait to hear it!

The Hot Sprockets
The Hot Sprockets shouldn’t really need an introduction here. Their a bit like if The Grateful Dead got cryogenically frozen in the 60’s, but still got to listen to music from then till now, then thawed out ready to take over the world. Expect well timed Rock and Roll choreography and probably Buckfast.

John Blek and The Rats
I saw this band for the first time last year and really felt like I had been missing something. They’re a Cork based Folk/Country act whose songcraft really shines through. Grab a beer, relax and just have a nice sway.

O Emperor
Waterford band O Emperor have been going from strength to strength. Their hard work so far has culminated in their fantastic new album Vitreous. The record is a real album and should be listened to in full. It clocks in at just over 30 minutes of bliss. Check it out!
And So I Watch You From Afar
I said at the start of this post that these bands were in no particular order, but in the case of ASIWYFA that was a bit of a lie. I am so excited to see these guys again, it’s been over a year. But its not because they don’t play shows, quite the opposite. ASIWYFA have been touring everywhere, from Asia , Africa and Europe to the US, Canada and South America. It’s a bit of a treat when they get home for some gigs and Saturday will be no exception. Bring dry clothes, this ones gonna be sweaty!

There are still tickets available for the festival, but probably not for long, so get your arse in gear if you want to see these and so many other fantastic acts. Tickets are available here!

Villagers win Choice Music Prize 2013

villagers
Villagers have scooped up the Choice Music Prize for their fantastic album {Awayland} which was released to critical acclaim in January last year. The band were up against some stiff competition from the likes of And So I watch You From Afar, Lisa O’Niell, O Emperor, Little Green Cars, Bell X1, My Bloody Valentine, Kodaline, Girls Names and Mano Le Tough. Congratulations to everyone at Villagers, it must have been a difficult decision for the judges but it’s well deserved. You can stream {Awayland} on Spotify here.
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