THIS week one of the North's premier new acts have taken their show on the road following their first project and Ireland makes a mark in the UK at one of the world's premier festivals.
As we approach the summer months and the subsequent festival circuit promised by the warmer weather, it's customary for the quality and frequency of releases to begin to ratchet up. And it's often hard to parse through the dense forest of vibrations and vocals – but one release this week has stood above all others.
I am of course referring to Northern Winds alumni Chalk. A trio formed in the bellows of the Belfast pandemic ears, influenced as much by 1950s Japanese horror films and vintage scores as they are by post-punk and Belfast's hardcore electronic music scenes. They've been a regular feature in this column for a year now.
Friday marked the release of their debut EP, simply titled 'Conditions' – human or otherwise. A titanic achievement filled with previous singles like the buzzsaw 'Velodrome' and the gothic 'Them', its fifth and titular track represents a new dynamic vision and direction for the Belfast three-piece's sound. With nods to 90s cult rave hit 'Born Slippy' and the cinematic percussion and production of Matthew Beringer's stadium-filler act The National, it's pure dance floor euphoria.
Speaking about the single, the band said: "Conditions is our way of summarising everything that life brings to us as people, both good and bad, in our dreams and in our relationships, in our struggle to find who we really are, wrestling to discover what our purpose is, and where we belong in the world. We feel that Conditions captures the essence of everything we've touched on throughout our EP and brings all of these emotions together to a sort of catharsis. It's our way of pouring out how the world has impacted us over the past three years and how all of us have changed as a result."
Much loved by tastemakers across the globe, such as BBC6 Music, Consequence of Sound and Gigwise, Chalk take their new sounds and sights on the road for the first time this week. With sold-out shows in Glasgow, Manchester and Dublin, as well as headlines in Belfast, London and slots at the iconic festival The Great Escape in Brighton this week, this is a band to keep your eye on.
On the subject of The Great Escape, Ireland has certainly made its mark on the festival this week. Taking over the city of Brighton three days this week, the festival represents the largest export event of music and culture in the UK and our homegrown acts are making their presence felt. Not only are the aforementioned Chalk showcasing their talents, but a further 23 acts have announced their intent to travel and perform in front of the top music industry officials in the world.
Two stages will ring in the acts, with 18 on the Music From Ireland stage and six on the Output Belfast stage. Representing home are psych-pop singer Lemonade Shoelace, DIY punk band Problem Patterns, multi-instrumentalist pop songwriter ROE, indie-rock quarter The Florentinas and more. A great opportunity to show off the best of our young talent to festival bookers, labels and agents from around the globe.
Our spotlight this week shines again on our favourites Bricknasty. The new single 'ducks ina row' folds their intriguing blend of jazz, rap, indie and lo-fi traditions into a tantric concoction product that captures not only their live energy but also the barrier-breaking, genre-bending style that has earned them a reputation of being ones to watch.