Saturday, 29 May 2010

Not Quite the End

So, it may have become a little obvious that Belfast Calling hasn't been on my mind too much recently. Second semester became pretty much crazy busy with studying and socialising. For the first half of it I found myself leaving Stirling almost every weekend and therefore having to study my bum off during the week to keep up, and the second half was full of exam preperation. I also had to sort out a visa for the summer because I'm working at a camp in up-state New York for nine weeks. Basically, I'd like to apologise for my lack of updates, and to inform everyone that in just over two weeks I'll be jetting off to the States, to a camp with only one computer, and updating this blog won't be on my mind at all. Next semester is already looking busy but I think I'd like to upload something atleast once or twice a week. I loved Belfast Calling but I've recently realised that journalism maybe isn't what I want to do with my life. My passion for this blog has died a bit and studying it has made me realise even further that it probably isn't the career for me. However, I don't want to make any big decisions yet, as I still have two years of university left.

But for now, until September, I shall bid you adieu!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

'Remember Me' Review

Twi-hards and Robert Pattinson fangirls: this film isn’t for you.

When I planned to go and see 'Remember Me' I thought it would be some sort of cutesy romance between Pattinson and another Bella Swan, but I was proven wrong. Based in New York City and directed by Allen Coulter, 'Remember Me' will give you a lot more than you bargained for. Within the first fifteen minutes it’s clear to see that Pattinson’s character, Tyler, is more of a brooding writer who spends his time in a cafe in Brooklyn, but not a in a cliched “tortured artist” way. A lot of the scenes are shot in handheld camera and you’re never sure what exactly is about to happen; the grainy lens and blue tint making things seem quite dark. The film takes many twists and turns, including Tyler’s new girlfriend, Ally (Emilie de Ravin) his relationships with his Dad (played by Pierce Brosnan, who takes on a horrendous Brooklyn accent) and his little sister, and his flatmate who seems to come in to make a joke to lighten the mood a little every so often.

While there are a good few cliches, including Ally admitting she eats dessert first because, “I just don’t see the point in waiting. I mean, what if I die while eating my entree?” there are also some inspiring, quotable lines - “Gandhi said that whatever you do in life will be insignificant, but it’s very important that you do it because nobody else will.” Without giving anything away, this film may not make sense to people until the last ten minutes, but the twist is shocking and, to some, unexpected. If you want to see this film for Robert Pattinson, don’t bother. You won’t get some romantic drama with a happy ending. Pattinson really digs his teeth into this role and makes for a gritty performance. But if you’re wanting to see something new and different, a low-ish budget film, something unexpected, then it’s definitely worth the cost.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

The Candle Thieves Release Debut Single

On March 29th, eclectic, indie-pop duo, The Candle Thieves, are releasing their debut single, 'We're All Gonna Die (Have Fun)'. The boys have just finished the video for it, which was directed by Richard Cullen of Pixelfing and you can view it right here:

You can find out more about The Candle Thieves at

Monday, 8 February 2010

The Candle Thieves

“The Candle Thieves keep the flame burning for sweetly emotive pop” – The Metro
"The Candle Thieves are wonderful" - The Independent
Their songs would melt the hardest hearts...How could you resist?" - The Guardian

Back in October I did an interview with Scott McEwan and Glockenshiels of Peterborough based band, The Candle Thieves, after the release of their 'Sunshine EP'. They had spent the summer touring up and down the country playing gigs in peoples gardens and had started work on their debut album.

The guys have recently signed to Downtown Records in America (Justice, Miike Snow, Gnarls Barkley) and are definitely a band to look out for in 2010. On March 22nd they release their debut single, 'We're All Going to Die (Have Fun)' and then on April 5th their debut album, 'Sunshine and Other Misfortunes'.

The 'Sunshine EP' is available to listen to on Spotify and you can find out more about The Candle Thieves at

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Voicebox Comedy

With music seemingly taking over the Belfast entertainment scene comedy nights are few and far between in Northern Ireland, but Marcus Keeley, organiser of Voicebox Comedy, is trying to change that. After trying out stand-up at university he returned to Belfast hoping to continue honing his skills. The only comedy clubs at the time, The Empire and The Laughter Lounge at The Odyssey, didn't interest him as an audience member, nevermind a performer, and this was when he decided to try and organise his own night. "I endeavoured to create an accessible amateur comedy night, with a slight lean towards the alternative style of humour. I also wanted to make it extremely welcoming to first-timers; something which a lot of comedy clubs tend to overlook. After an admittedly ramshackled short series of nights, Voicebox Comedy Club came back regularly during the summer of 2009, and has been packed every month!"

With a sheer lack of comedy clubs in Belfast you'd think comedians would have been coming out of the woodwork when Voicebox started up, but it had a bit of a slow start: "Originally when I started Voicebox, I sent out e-mails, ads and so on to find out if there were any comics in a similar position as me. Around four or five of us met up and I asked them to do the night. Since then, some have went on to start their own comedy clubs and others have disappeared from the scene. Generally speaking, once the amateur nights got a bit of momentum going, eventually people thought 'oh, I'll have a go next week'. Of course, there's people who only do it once then vanish, which is a shame, but within the scene the majority of people are very supportive with new comics." Since then comedy clubs have sprung up all over Belfast and there's plenty more to be found throughout the rest of Northern Ireland and Dublin.

As stated before, Marcus was inspired to start the night after trying out a bit of stand-up at university, so what delights can we expect from him? "I prefer the alternative style of humour, being a big fan of Vic Reeves & Bob Mortimer, Rik Mayall & Adrian Edmonson, Dylan Moran, Charlie Brooker, Tim Minchin, these would probably be the comics/writers who give me the most influence. People see my stand-up as being rather dark, exaggerating the negative aspects of how people interact with each other and my own personal failings to surreal degrees." But it's not all doom and gloom: "I also do character skits/videos with a bit more focus on satire or the ridiculous. Of course, not everyone enjoys the above, but I don't see any fun in doing comedy that everyone gets or appreciates. There's enough local humour based comedians around for that."

With 2010 comes a new start, so what's on the cards for Marcus and Voicebox Comedy? "Voicebox is always growing, which is largely in part to the fantastic audience following we have, the comics who enjoy the night and get on board, and of course Safehouse Arts Space where it's held. It's a very open comedy night; I understand that not everyone shares my point of view on humour, so I'll try anything once or twice - I don't want to speak on behalf of the audience." So why not become part of that audience?

You can find out more about Voicebox Comedy at and

Friday, 5 February 2010

"I think if you say your band is a punk band or any other kind of band you instantly place a restriction on yourself."

Comply or Die formed in spring of 2008 and within in a year were gigging regularly, gaining a reputation for putting on an “explosive live show.” The members (Matt on drums, Michael on guitar/vocals and Ian on bass/vocals) are made of ex-members of bands including Coda, The Kiss Kills and Snake Charmers and are currently working on a new record. “We’re playing around with a concept for it at the minute that will tie it all together and help make it pretty cohesive. The last record was really just a collection of songs, really good songs, but there wasn’t really a central theme to it so I thought it would be cool to try something like this with the next record,” Michael tells me. “Musically it’s more diverse, there’s more depth to it. Not all the songs are full on heads down assault like the last record, there are songs like that on here, and those kinds of songs are always fun to play, but we don’t really want to keep going over old ground.”

Before I continue I should probably tell you now that Comply or Die are not, I repeat NOT, a punk band. “People ask us what our band sound like and we’re like, ‘oh, well it’s like, post punk hardcore,’ and then they hear us and it’s like ‘that’s not’re not punk’. I think if you say your band is a punk band or any other kind of band really you instantly place a restriction on yourself and the sound.” Michael tells me. It’s all too easy to try and put everyone and everything in a box these days, but Comply or Die simply won’t accept it: “We're too heavy for the punks and a lot of people don't really get us or what we do. I think we adhere to the DIY ethics that are the back bone of what real punk, in my eyes, is but that’s probably where the similarities start and end. We're our own band and don't really pay too much attention to scenes, genres or what’s hip, fashionable or cool.” Matt adds. A long time ago people seemed to forget that punk was more than a music genre, which is probably what brought about the downfall of anyone’s understanding of the real punk lifestyle. And these guys definitely aren’t big fans of the current Northern Irish indie scene. Matt tells me, “there’s too many [indie bands] in Belfast and very few of them have any balls; it’s all fashion. It'll shift round again and rock or something else will be big in a few years. All these things are cyclical. Fits and starts.”

So except for the record and some upcoming gigs, what’s on the cards for Comply or Die for the rest of 2010? “Just get tighter as a band, write more songs, and get some more varied gigs I guess.” Ian tells me, before Michael adds, “hopefully well get to play a festival or something during the summer. Last year was a pretty successful year for us so hopefully this year will top that.” Fingers crossed it definitely will.

Comply or Die recently released a FREE downloadable single! It features two tracks - Baptism of Fire and Like A Snake - from their debut album and a previously unreleased live track, I'm Sick(of This), that will feature on their second record due out later this year! Follow the link for the FREE single and if you like that you can get the record for a mere £5.
You can also check out their new music video for Love Under Will. Check it out at
You can also find out more about the band and hear their music at
Photo by Victoria Carson.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Indigo Fury - EP Review

This EP makes me feel as if Indigo Fury don't actually want to gain new fans. In the current musical climate most bands want to do something to get recognised, but with this mish-mash of classic rock and brit pop, I can't see these guys gaining any new listeners. First track, Something Happened, may have a couple of catchy riffs but it does nothing to pull the audience in and sounds just like so many bands that died with the 90s. Next two tracks, Drive and Mine Now, nevermind sounding incredibly similar, also resemble what you might hear at a band practise in the beginnings of a band's formation. Avoiding instrumental pieces might be an idea Indigo Fury should really consider. By the time I reach final track, Not Today, I'm really hoping they can surprise me, but unfortunately I'm let down. With a bit of a rock 'n' roll vibe, this song has been done before, countless times. Indigo Fury show clear potential with this EP, and I can't wait to see them actually using the talents they obviously have. But until then, this release just doesn't cut it.

You can find out more about Indigo Fury at

Friday, 22 January 2010

"I guess it's a case of, 'well, they're doing that already, let's try something different'."

“Screaming Maldini are me (singing, producing, and that), Tom (refusing to sing and drumming), Andy (singing and trumpeting), Gina (more singing and percussioning), Annie (even more singing and bassing) and Chris (yet more of the singing and also keyboarding). Six all told, and with room to spare.” Nick of Screaming Maldini tells me. The band began as his “bedroom project” in 2008. “It was mainly as an outlet for my ever-increasing obsession with music production and recording. At the time, I lived with Andy and I fancied recording some trumpet (having never done so before) so I did.” Before the band knew it they were being played on 6Music by Tom Robinson. This inspired them to get some more musicians together and within six months they had a band and were signed to Alcopop! Records.

Screaming Maldini play an eclectic mix of pop, indie and something a little bit retro. Their use of horns, keys and percussion create a whole new genre that I’m sure no one has ever heard before. “With Maldini,there's always been this constant underlying feeling of not wanting to follow what other people are doing. There are a lot of purely guitar bands out there at the moment, equally there are lot of synth-driven bands out there too, most of whom are phenomenally good at what they do. I guess it's a case of, ‘well, they're already doing that, let's try something different’.”

The Extraordinary, the second track on the band’s MySpace page, has a quite retro, 60s feel to it. Due to Nick’s lack of planning this was completely unintentional but appears to have worked out brilliantly: “it was quite an organic experience writing and recording the song (it grew over about four months) and it wasn't in the least bit planned (I'm not very good at thinking ahead!). We had put down some guitar and drums and the thought occurred to me that the main riff might sound cool on the trumpet, so I called Andy upstairs to play it and everything just spiralled from there really.” But that wasn’t the end of it: “all of a sudden I found myself in Sheffield Cathedral's song school recording the girl choristers soaring up to top Bbs and thinking, 'crikey, this is different!'. I guess it was a case of letting what happens happen.”

So what’s on the cards for Screaming Maldini in 2010? “We release our Debut EP through the magnificent Alcopop! Records on February 22nd, which we're very excited about! We'll be playing a few dates in support of that and then we plan to keep plugging away, keep writing, keep playing, keep building and working hard. The summer should hopefully bring some festival performances and then, with a touch of luck and some focus, there'll be a full length record ready by the second half of the year!”

That definitely sounds like something we can look forward to.

You can find out more about Screaming Maldini and listen to their music at

Friday, 15 January 2010

Sister Marko - 'Just Let Go' single review

Sister Marko are inspired by bands like The Foo Fighters, Creed and Muse, and you can definitely hear in this in their new single, 'Just Let Go'. These guys make new age grunge rock and do it well. It's a catchy track and has a good beat that will get your foot tapping. But maybe second track on the single, 'Train to New York' would have been a better song to release? With a faster tempo and stronger riffs this song seems like a more interesting listen.The final track, 'Behind Bars' is an acoustic version and reminds me of early Foo Fighters. In the current day and age of music, where indie and folk are gaining rapid success, bands like Sister Marko could definitely bring rock back.

To check out Sister Marko and the single head to