New Music From Derry (Winter 2018)

Last Summer friend of the blog Emmet Brown put us all on to TOUTS, in his opinion & many others, the best young band in Derry. Self-described as “a singer that can’t sing, a mod that can’t play bass and a drummer that can’t see” the three piece have been consolidating their reputation with quality support gigs for Paul Weller & Liam Gallagher. In October they released “Lit”, their second four track EP, which featured this great racket.



Image result for touts band“Bombscare”, Pure Punk-Pop for Now People eh! TOUTS are maybe too young to have experienced bombs & scares but those things are part of the collective Northern Ireland experience in a way that those of us on the UK mainland find difficult to imagine. Matthew, Jason & Luke have an energy & aggression which we have heard before from that country’s bands but this is no retread/revival. When it’s done right, which it is here, this music is fresh & relevant. I have a friend who is a major fan of Stiff Little Fingers & I know that she will love TOUTS. The 2 EPs were collected on 12″ vinyl in January but there are only 100 copies of this around & I’m sure that we’re too late for one. Get on over to their Soundcloud page where you can hear some gloriously loud music.


A return visit to Derry is overdue. I’m waiting for better weather, global warming can’t come quick enough. When that does come around I’m hoping that it collides with a gig by the Barbiturates. My first experience of the Barbs’ music was a suite inspired by Jodorowsky’s kaleidoscopic, brain-scrambling visionary film “The Holy Mountain”. That’s ambition of Himalayan proportions, something to be admired in a young band. Singer Amytal Gnostic is an e-friend of mine, Everyone’s social media feed needs a sprinkling of random substance-influenced ramblings & Amytal is my guy. Shoot, if the Internet had been about when I was his age capricious & erratic would have been all you got from me & everyone I knew. I like him.



Image result for the barbiturates derryThe Barbiturates don’t compromise & I like that too. “Only Folkin Jokin”, released this week, is their new musical/video project. The only bite-sized chunk for the 21st century attention span is “The British Political Disaster”, a serious, truthful, moving reflection on the 1972 Bloody Sunday massacre. It’s not an easy watch. The 25 minute video mash-up above plays fast & loose with continuity, copyright & musical styles. I’m guessing at Psych-Folk. The Barbiturates are direct, honest & give them a chance. You will not see or hear much like this anywhere else & it will get you in the end. Head over to Bandcamp where you’ll find & can buy the whole shebang, 24 tracks, for just 5 of our British pounds. I look forward to a live encounter with the band.



Image result for damian o'neillLastly, certainly not leastly, it’s back to where it all began, a new track & video by Damian O’Neill & the Monotones. When Damian was a teenager he got his kicks by playing in the Undertones, the Derry band that rocked the world. The band continue to tour for part of the year & I really must stir myself to catch a set full of perfectly crafted Punk-Pop (hang on, I used that term earlier). Damian continued to impress with That Petrol Emotion & with his current band The Everlasting Yeah on hiatus he has recorded a solo LP “Refit Revise Reprise”.


His contribution to the ‘Tones is probably undervalued. With bassman Micky Bradley he wrote “My Perfect Cousin” & “It’s Gonna Happen”, singles good enough to be ranked alongside the songs of his big brother John. For “Sweet ‘n’ Sour” Damian has dug out his platform boots & made a T-Rexstatic, rifftastic slab of Glam Rock. I’m sure that there will be more of the same on the LP which currently is available to buy on Pledgemusic. You shouldn’t have to wait, the records are pressed, I’ve seen the photos.

New Music From Derry (Summer 2017)

It is with great pleasure that I am able to include this clip on loosehandlebars, it’s been a while coming & it is certainly worth the wait. We have championed the Gatefolds since their first live gig in March 2013. Not only because my friend Joe Brown is the bass player but also because, in the fine tradition of guitar bands out of Derry, Northern Ireland, they made a most acceptable racket. A major highlight of a memory-packed first night in Derry was seeing the band play live. I’m now happy to call all 4 Gatefolds friends, it’s been a pleasure to follow their progress through the videos made by Derry documentarist Jim Cunningham & the receipt of care parcels containing new recordings. Now we have the first professionally shot & edited filming of the band in action & it’s very good indeed.


Image result for the gatefolds derry

Photo:Mickey Rooney



Image result for the gatefolds derryAt the end of April I made the 300 mile journey from my home to the Western edge of Europe to experience my second Gatefolds gig. The guys, a proper Garage band, worked hard in drummer Sean’s garage before returning to playing out & it showed. The guitar interplay of Jason & Fergal flows & surges at all the right times, the rhythm section, Joe & Sean, bring it in subtly & bring it home powerfully. It’s the unity, the 4 of them knowing how the Gatefolds should sound, that is the most impressive. I look forward to hearing studio versions of the new songs.

Over at BBC Radio Foyle presenter Stephen McCauley’s “Electric Mainline” show champions independent music & the local scene. He invited the Gatefolds along to play 2 of their tracks & “Disappearing Act” was caught for posterity. My trip to Donegal was totally worth it (I got a tune dedicated to me, thanks guys). Click on the link & you’ll get a taste of the rocking good stuff.




The best way to get the lowdown on a new young band is to ask a real young person. Keeping it in the family Emmet Brown, son of Joe kindly accepted our invitation to join the ‘handlebars’ karass. Emmet is the Antichrist.  (“What ?”…Really ?”…OH !) Strike that, Emmet is an anarchist…phew !


Image result for touts derry band“The word ‘touts’ may have a significantly different meaning in the north than it does most places. Defined as ““someone who betrays a confidence. To squeal, to tell tales, to inform the police of illegal activities”. With a name like that they’re already off to a brave start. With their debut EP “Sickening & Deplorable” its not hard to see where their influences lay. Channeling the power of legends such as the Clash while having the speed of American punks such as early Descendents.
I saw them playing in The Camden Assembly (Formerly the Barfly) in April. I was instantly blown away by their intensity and power. Guitarist and Vocalist Matthew would try to engage with the audience between songs but no one could make out his thick Derry accent. I found this hilarious as I looked around the room at confused faces.
“Saturday Night Scumbag” from their debut EP has to be one of the most fierce and explosive songs to come out of Derry and is exactly what the youth of our city needs. It’s great to see so many young music fans going to gigs and starting bands in Derry. It’s about time!”



Image result for paddy nash and the happy enchiladasI hope that Paddy Nash doesn’t mind me describing him as a stalwart of the Derry music scene as he’s a big man & I’m in bad shape. Way back at the end of the 20th century his group The Whole Tribe Sings made a single “Happy” which was used in a beer commercial, got them gigs in the US & it could have been, even should have been. After a long break Paddy returned with the Happy Enchiladas as his backing band & there are 6 albums of their sparky, Rock-Folk around. I often encounter Paddy’s name & music through his involvement with local musicians & many community-based projects.


This month a solo LP, “Gate Fever” is released. 10 tracks recorded in 6 days it’s a mature collection, sometimes introspective, sometimes retrospective, vignettes & character studies accurately captured. If the songs are a little downbeat well, these are the times we live in & Paddy’s lyrics are studded with warmth, hope & beauty. I feel that I’m listening to an Irish version of John Prine & that’s no bad thing. There’s an interesting video for “We Are The Dead” just up there. If you click here you can listen to “Gate Fever” & buying it is just one more click away.