Review by Vicky Gottschalk
15/10/13 The Gibson Guitar Studio, London
On Tuesday night, I found myself at the Gibson Guitar Studios, surrounded by Irish accents and exceptionally good canapés. Now usually, I don’t need an excuse to spend an evening getting acquainted with tiny food (the best kind because you can eat more of it…) but it just so happened that my reasoning behind this situation was the Belfast Music Week launch. Hosted by Radio 1′s Phil Taggart, this event was held to simply raise awareness to the sensational music Northern Ireland happens to be delivering to the world… and if Tuesday night was anything to go by, they’ve got a lot to deliver. Of course, Northern Ireland has given us Gary Lightbody (Snow Patrol’s lead singer), Nadine Coyle (Girls Aloud) and Van Morrison but there’s new talent on the scene who need to be heard. And boy, did they get heard.
Kicking off the event was Unknown, an extremely talented producer, signed to Champion Sound Music. Unknown’s anonymity has been the cause of much speculation; various internet rumours have ‘identified’ Unknown as either La Roux, Skrillex or Ryan Vail but speculation still surrounds the up and coming producer. With a similar sound to that of Burial and Emergency Room, Unknown’s eerie beats were the perfect start to the event. Gemma Dunleavy, who’s vocals feature on a few of Unknown’s tracks, appeared alongside Unknown at the launch. Together, they are the perfect combination of vocals and beats and are exactly what the music industry needs right now. So far so good, Belfast…
As wine flowed and beers were poured, Belfast four-piece, Girls Names, took to the stage. Having released their critically acclaimed second album, ‘The New Life‘, in February, the band have had a busy summer, appearing at over 18 festivals and performing in 16 different countries. When I heard Girls Names, I was instantly reminded of The Smiths earlier sound. 80s electro pop, with beautifully constructed lyrics, the way Girls Names play their instruments is an art form in itself. Although their sound is quite indie (think MGMT, Two Door Cinema Club etc), there’s definitely a niche in the market for Girls Names.
Finally, a four piece from Derry took to the stage and ended the night perfectly. Little Bear have just released their first single with Smalltown America Records and are tearing apart the music scene at a pace I’m in awe off. Hailed as creating ‘literate rock’ music, Little Bear have received support from BBC Radio 1, RTE 1, Downtown and City Beat. I still can’t get quite get my head around why Little Bear aren’t packing out venues at Biffy Clyro’s rate; their lyrics are tattoo worthy and the band, together, are delivering exactly what the industry seems to be soaking up at the moment. Seeing this band live, as they begin their career, was an absolute honour and I know for a fact that they will be going very far. Their vocals ended my Tuesday night perfectly and as I left the Gibson Guitar studios and took to the cold streets of London, their songs continued to play out in my head. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for Little Bear. In terms of talent, it is without a doubt that the Belfast Music Week launch was inundated with tonnes of the stuff. To see all three acts perform was such a honour and to be a part of the launch was something magical. Plus, the canapés were sensational.