Wednesday, 25 March 2009

New Found Glory - 'Not without a Fight' Review

After ‘Coming Home’ and ‘Catalyst’, two pretty mediocre albums, New Found Glory fans were expecting something a little bit more exciting and they seem to have got it on ‘Not without a Fight’. First single, Listen to your Friends, takes us back to the days of ‘Sticks and Stones’ and is reminiscent of fan-favourite, My Friends Over You, while Truck Stop Blues has a great punk rock beat with melodies that catch your attention and Don’t Let Her Pull You Down and 47 remind us of teenage relationships and growing up. After all, New Found Glory were the band that got us into punk rock, with Jordan’s well known whiney voice being the narrator in our lives. Reasons is a bit different to what we’re used to but still has that New Found Glory sound with its foot-tapping rhythm and traditional punk rock melodies. Such a Mess has a strong intro that pulls you into the song and Heartless at Best is the song that everyone will learn to sing along to because of its catchy chord progression, while final track, This isn’t You, seems like a bit of a slow starter but picks up in the chorus and really does New Found Glory justice. So if you were worried that this would be another let down, there’s really no need. Jordan and the boys are finally back on track and they seem to be reminiscing as much as we are.

You can check out New Found Glory and some tracks from 'Not without a Fight' at

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Three bands to check out this month!

Ram's Pocket Radio
Pete McCauley used to drum for Ego, and if you ever heard them then you won't expect him to be making music like this. 'Boats' (which is available for free download at is something that Northern Irish music has been lacking for a long time and 'Dieter Rams has got the Pocket Radios' is almost slightly Dresden Dolls-esque. This is one band that you will kick yourself for not hearing sooner.
You can check out Ram's Pocket Radio at
Photo by Neil Kerr -

Glare of Rockets
These guys have already been plugged by the lovely people at To Write Love on Her Arms so they probably don't need much more publicity, but they really deserve it. Lead singer, Mariah, is only 16 but has a voice beyond her years that perfectly expresses the passion that these guys portray through their lyrics. Songs 'She Screams' and untitled 'track 8' on their myspace are two songs you should definitely give a listen.

You can check out Glare of Rockets at
Photo by Jared Scott.

This Will Destroy You
What's funny about this band is that their name in no way reflects the music they make. They create beautiful instrumental pieces that will leave you feeling pretty amazing by the time the three or four minutes that they last is up. If you listen to anything by this band I would suggest that you check out 'Freedom Blade'.
You can check out This Will Destroy You at
Photo by Mike Simpson.

Now on Twitter!

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Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Doing Something Right

From personal experience, I can tell you that it’s hard to get recognised as a writer. While people seem to be more interested in music, film and TV than books or poetry, writing suffers and doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. While Gerard McKeown is a writer, he takes part in what is called ‘performance poetry’ and a lot of the time this is mocked and not taken seriously, so how does he feel on the matter? “I feel performance poetry can get unfairly looked down upon by people who want to judge it according to what they think poetry should be, but then when writers like John Cooper Clarke or Stewart Home come to Belfast and you get asked to support them you feel you're doing something right.”

While music may be taking over these days, Gerard has had many opportunities to incorporate it into his work: “The Lowly Knights invited me to support them at their EP launch. That all stemmed from meeting Michael from the band at a gig and finding out we liked each other’s stuff, which is always the best sort of recognition.” If you listen to Gerard’s work on his MySpace you’ll notice that he has put some of his work to music, portraying the fact that sounds are just as important to him as words: “One of the most important factors in choosing the words for my poetry is the way they sound. A poem has to work aurally before I'll consider it finished. I was originally attracted to poetry through music, for example, Bob Dylan referencing Rimbaud. So for me there's a strong link between the two. Poetry is music set to words, as the saying goes.” It’s not very often that music and poetry are mixed – a lot of people would say poetry is just words that are lost without music but when a band and a poet come together like this it’s easy to see how the two can work so well alongside each other, and how songs would be non-existent without poetry.

But it’s not all about the serious side of things. While it’s easy enough to sit down and read a sombre poem, you might not want to listen to the same thing when you’re out at the pub with your mates and Gerard takes this into account with his use of comedy: “as much as I will draw from music I will draw from comedy. Comedy works well for performance poetry because you can often perform to people who've been drinking. They like to laugh and it more often than not fits the mood of most pub gigs.” But it’s not all jokes, the things Gerard makes comical are topics that he feels need to be discussed, Humour is a good way of introducing these topics, without coming across like you're talking down to people or telling them how to think (which for a lot of people is boring).” It’s true; no one likes to be preached at, no matter what the topic, and so disguising opinions with humour seems like something that should be done more often.

So next time you see a poster advertising a performance poetry night, maybe think about checking it out before you judge it.

You can check out Gerard's work at

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Under Stars & Gutters - MySpace Songs Review

Under Stars & Gutters have a great pop punk mentality about them. First song, 3167, is energetic, fun, passionate and has the some of the typical gang vocals that a lot of punk likes to include, but it's not predictable or cliched - music-wise. Lyrics-wise you can't really expect much more than either a long song or a bitter song of revenge about a girl who broke a heart. However, it's not overly obvious and this song is definitely worth listening to. Second song, If You Met Drama, again has the passion and the energy that you expect from pop punk, and as we think back over Adam Carroll's musical past it's good to see how the bands he has been in have really progressed and matured.

"All we can do is work hard and be patient."

Jumping Orbit are an alternative indie rock band based in Mid-Ulster/Belfast who formed one night when Ciaran (lead guitar) drunkenly asked Matthew (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) if he wanted to form a band. You don’t hear of a lot of bands based in Mid-Ulster so Matthew agreed: “I had been playing guitar for a short time at that stage but the thought of being in a band and doing something different to everyone where we live really excited me, so of course I had to be in the band.” The guys had their ups and downs before finding Francis (drums) and Anthony (bass) and have since recorded their first demo and gigged as much as they can.

Jumping Orbit aren’t your typical indie band, because as you listen to them you’ll hear a heavier side come out. “I think the heavier side comes from me as my favourite band is Biffy Clyro, but this combined with The Strokes, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Kiss provides a strange mix. All four of us are largely influenced by Derry’s fighting with wire. Everything they have done to date has been a big inspiration for everyone involved in music here.” Fighting With Wire are one of few heavier Northern Irish bands and clearly a big influence on the growing heavier music scene here so it’s understandable that Jumping Orbit would be inspired by them.

“We have high hopes for 2009. Although we are only new to the scene we have turned a few heads so far,” Matthew tells me, “We really want to play the big bars in Belfast i.e. the limelight, the speakeasy, stiff kitten or even the empire. At present we are writing and rehearsing new songs which we wish to record in the coming months, so hopefully we will have an EP on the way. We have already spoken to paddy Glasgow about playing at the festival (Glasgowbury ‘09) in the summer but all we can do is work hard and be patient.”

You can check out Jumping Orbit at

"I think only in imagery."

In Northern Ireland being a cinematographer /director/photographer/writer must be a tough occupation, right? Not for the man in question, Matthew Alexander Patton. “[My work is] all visual, even the writing. I think only in imagery, so whilst I'm trying to express ideas and feelings using different mediums - to me, it's the same.” While music is still a growing phenomenon for a lot of people, the other arts tend to be ignored, but not by the few who are skilled enough to actually use them to create something. “A lot of what I'm doing I've fallen into. I was actually an IT consultant for a few years after I left school, and I have always loved interest in film making came first, then writing and finally (by complete accident) photography.” For Matthew it was as much an accident, discovering what he was good at, as it was for any musician to discover how good they are at their chosen instrument.

As I’ve already mentioned, this sort of work might seem tougher than most jobs in a country as small as Northern Ireland, but is this really the case? “I don't think Northern Ireland is small at all, I think the general mentality is small, we've grown up with that mindset. I've been constantly told by friends in the film industry that I should be based in London, and eventually move stateside - but I have no interest in that. My enthusiasm for film making in particular is directed into raising the game here at home. The talent is there, but a lot of people are unaware of just how much they can accomplish without having to jump ship.” It couldn’t be more true. Once again turning to music, we’re constantly seeing bands feeling the need to tour in England to gain success. Northern Ireland may be geographically small but there’s so many opportunities that people refuse to see because they want to be part of something obvious, something they refuse to look for here because it might take a little longer to find.

Matthew currently has three unpublished books but doesn’t want to try publishing until he’s really happy with it: “I completed my first book back in 2005, then drafted it over and over, and I'm still not happy with it. It had a little interest from a publisher in England, but breaking out as a novelist is possibly one of the hardest creative paths to follow - and so it never came to anything. I've continued to write but have decided to sit on it until I know I'm holding something really worthwhile.” But it isn’t writing that would Matthew’s choice if he had to pick just one of his interests to do for the rest of his life – “Film is the best of both worlds really, it's a descriptive medium that immerses the audience, and can be insanely powerful. It has had the greatest impact on my life, and I have learned so much emotionally from cinema that I couldn't pick up from day to day situations.”

Matthew is currently working on a low budget feature film, and trying to secure funding for four music videos with various local acts, so make sure to watch out for some of his work throughout the year.

You can view more of Matthew's work at