Saturday, July 31, 2010

Review: Sacred Animals Welcome Home EP

Sacred Animals, 'Welcome Home EP' is a hidden gem. This highly secretive band rarely play gigs and little is known of its members. However, since they dropped their debut EP earlier this year, it has spread like wild-fire around Dublin's musical elite and record label interest if said to be fierce.

Welcome Home opens with Wired Islands a cross between The Eels and Radiohead it begins with an "E" style electric piano line, soon joined by strings and a haunting vocal Thom Yorke would surly approve of "A rest will come, islands less inhabitants, with one eye on the prize, executed plans, pursued by passengers."

Chosen Seed is reminiscent of 'Virgin Suicides' era Air a sparse arrangement of arpeggiated guitar, bongos, rim-shots, tambourine and mallets, build a tense sound scape allowing the vocals to wash over us "Are you scared of what you said Well you're not the only one" is a truly dread filled refrain. While title track Welcome Home is built upon a bed of static and percussive sounds looped and long, deep, piano notes, syncopated by a simple bell melody.

Sigur Ros's influence looms large on the final track Still Removed. Once again the lyrics are dark full of self loathing, neurosis, and paranoia "What's the point in boxing clever, All I see is all you are. It's the flaws that make the man & you are an imperfect star."

The intelligent use of different instruments in short bursts throughout all of Sacred Animals songs set them apart from other bands, as does the cryptic mindset of the lyrics 'Welcome Home' is a post apocalypic triumph and better still its avaiable to download free from bandcamp.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Review: Zombie Cops - Taking Lives (single)

Taking Lives is the second single from Dublin's Zombie Cops is a complete change in tact from the excellent debut Win Some Loose Some. The song builds slowly from a progish 'Down On The Upside' era Soundgarden guitar intro underlayed by a "On a Rope" type rhythm figure.

The call and response vocals of Kevin Fagan and Jamie Hughes work well throughout the entire song. Its back to more familiar musical territory for the verse and choruses as Jimmy Eat World, Open Hand, and Incubus influences are once again apparent. With a touch of Editors guitar trickery the song slows before ending on a flourish with a recap of the main riff.

Zombie Cops launch Taking Lives in Whelan's of Wexford St. Dublin on Friday 6th of August and are also appearing at Danny Byrnes Garden of Music, Festival in Mullingar on Sunday 8th of August. Zombie Cops are worth the admission fee alone for their excellent version of Don't You Want Me Baby.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Review: Cherry Ghost Beneath the Burning Shoreline

'Beneath the Burning Shoreline' is the second album from Lancashire balladeer Simon Aldred released under the moniker of Cherry Ghost. 'Beneath the Burning Shoreline' will cement his reputation as being a songwriters songwriter, but will also set him firmly in the public consciousness beside the likes of Richard Hawley and Paul Weller. Lyrically the songs remain slick, dark, descriptive, wordy and forlorn. They are presented as much more of a band effort than previous album 'Thirst For Romance.' Sonically Cherry Ghost have upped the anti in terms of orchestration and extra instruments, while the core sound has morphed into violent back alley rockabilly.

Opening track We Sleep on Stones is a noir tale delivered with the fine rockabilly precision of The Smiths at their most playful. Feedback lingers behind a military beat and groovy bass as Aldred sneers "We sleep on stones there's a killer in our homes that drags the night in" through the choruses. A Month of Mornings steadily grows from a simple arpeggtiated guitar octave into a dirty Springsteen meets Arcade Fire mid tempo ballad, with sparse guitar and keys drifting in and out of play. The albums title comes from the lyrics of this song "beneath the burning shoreline a month of mornings rain, Oh rolling river keep rolling."

Sure fire single Kissing Strangers is a tail of young love and singledom "been kissing strangers thralling the night sky drinking the bars dry. All is closing in". While Only Mother Could is a self acceptance lament on love; failed, unrequited and consciously denied or otherwise "In time I'll learn to love what only mother could." 

The Night They Buried Sadie Clay is a swirling cinematic highlight Elfmanesque strings fight Western horns while the top notch bassline and drums Whig-out. It is clear by now that Aldred has assembled a band of serious talent the bass and drums are fantastic throughout the album driving each song perfectly while the string arrangements counteract the guitar and keyboards wonderfully.

We are transported to Rome for Barbarini Square where Aldred quips "in a certain light your face could launch a bare knuckle fight" a brutal assessment of any woman or man. Black Fang is a more guitar heavy outing closer to the content of 'Thirst for Romance.'

There a social commentary running throughout the album no more so than in Luddite. The Luddites where a group of textile workers who destroyed labour saving machinery in their factories in the 1800's because they feared these innovations would lead to unemployment (and how wright they where) An unusual subject for a song and one that will surely irk Nicky Wire, for having been beaten to the punch.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Review: Goatboy - Myspace Review

Its hard to believe that Goatboy emerged from the fumbling progish offerings of the Screaming Skies to become one of Ireland's finest singer/songwriters. 

Winter Tears is a fine ballad ephemeral, yet gusty. Akin to Arcade Fire and Bon Ivor. Mark O'Sullivan's rich reverbed vocals resonate beautifully throughout all of his songs, especially so in New Moon where the intelligent mimicking of the harmony vocals by the piano, electric guitar, and strings, build to a very earthy sing-a-long chorus.

With For Your Love its as if James Taylor and Death Cab for Cutie have collaborated in the Bermuda Triangle the juxtaposition of pure country slide guitar led verses and uptempo alt rock guitar choruses shouldn't work, but work they do. 

Japanese City Nights is a fantastic Electro instrumental. The bass and Synth riffs play off each other beautifully and its also the standout track from Indiecator Records World Cup themed compilation "Fastforward".

Goatboy plays Pick for the Picnic at Crawdaddy on the 22nd of July

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Review: The Walls: Carrying The Fire (Single)

Carrying The Fire is the first single from The Walls forthcoming third album. And if this is an indicator of their new direction, then the Wall brothers are onto a winner. Carrying The Fire is a quirky mix of influences, including The Killers, The Waterboys, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Mercury Rev. In fact its so far removed from their earlier material that you may struggle to identify them until you hear the unmistakable voice of Steve Wall.

The song is driven by Joe Wall's chugging fuzz bass and the snappy snare drum of Rory Doyle, who is now double jobbing as Bell X1 stick man. The emigration themed lyrics are a timely reminder of how history is repeating itself with another generation of Ireland seemingly lost. However they will thrive once more in foreign lands as previous generations did in America. Their best song since To The Bright and Shining Sun possibly their best ever. The falsetto led chorus is a real treat.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Review: Action Pause Reaction - Rewind EP

Action Pause Reaction display much potential on their debut EP Rewind. The title tack starts of with a drum beat reminiscent of Everlong before Ronan O'leary churns out a riff that Josh Homme would be proud of.

See the Light of Day is a slightly more passive outing akin to Pavement or Jay Mascis and the Fog while Breaking Under the Strain is highly influenced by Northern Ireland's finest punk rock band Therapy? it contains more high tempo chainsaw guitar riffs.

Unfortunately all these fine riffs are lost in muddy mixing and production. The drums especially suffer from a very thin sound. There is no kick to them and the cymbals wash over everything. Studio inexperience and financial restraints have probably stopped this from being a much better end product.
However, a trip to a proper studio with a proper engineer could make them one of the best the rock trios in the land. Until then, go and see them live.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Review: Ham Sandwich - The Naturist (single)

Unfortunately for Ham Sandwich; it would seem that when lead singer Niamh, cut her hair and put away the 60's dresses, that they lost their soul in the process.

The Naturist starts of like a bad Snow Patrol cover; of the standard you would expect to see on 'The All Ireland Talent Show', Performed by a band, who have modeled themselves on The Corrs, and after a few weeks have been told to "Try something different" and this was the ill advised result. I can see it now "It lacked emotion and vitality" says Dáithí Ó Sé "your gonna struggle tonight girls"

In fact its only after about a minute that anything remotely interesting happens and that sadly only lasts for a few seconds. If only this song started at the chorus which is a decent enough exploration into Feist/Bat For Lashes land, and went on from there. They would be onto a winner.

This is a real shame as their debut album Carry the Meek showed real promise for the future. But I fear difficult second-album syndrome may have struck again.

Review: The Very Most - Myspace review

Boise Idaho sextet The Very Most are sunkist retro rompers paddling crystal clear waters of hope and happiness. Your in Love with the Sun is a breezy slice of idyllic 60s' Cali alt country pop; with Motown drum-fills and lashings of percussion, hummable keys and a truly catchy chorus perfect for garden parties and romantic moments.

Irlande a cross between a turbo charged Ventures track and Scotland's finest happy-sad band Belle and Sebastian and is one of the standout tracks on Dublin indie label Idiecater Records compilation Fastforward (previously reviewed by AIMR) Gia Trotter & Jeremy Jensen's vocals combine perfectly creating an ephemeral Wilson vibe throughout.

Who'd of thought that theology and and walking bass lines would go hand in hand Away in a Manger is modern yet retro update on the christian carol. Bring on the wind instruments and Ukulele and this wonderfully bizarre track is complete. With Call the Cops lead singer Jeremy Jensen tips his hat to 'Boy with the Arab strap' era Belle & Sebastian while the Lyrics are quirky and self loathing in a quintessentially British way that Morrissey has perfected.

The Very Most are a truly versatile band. They seem to be able to rap a melody around any lyrical subject. Indeed they actively encourage fans to challenge them with themes, people, places and situations to base songs upon. Scotland is a case in point. On paper it is just a list of Scottish bands, but in The Very Most's hands it become a Jingle Jangle call to arms for bedroom poets and protest singers.

A Year With The Very Most is out now on Indiecater Records previous albums Making the Case For Me (2004). Congratulations Forever (2008) are also available from the links below

Friday, July 2, 2010

Review: The Dig

Here at AIMR we love a bit of distorted bass. So we were delighted when we stumbled across unsigned New York quartet The Dig.The Dig certainly know how to make a beautiful, angry, spacial, racket. Their debut album Electric Toys, is a post punk shoe-gazing roller coaster of big bass, soaring guitars, eerie pads and distorted vocals You're Already Gone is groovy distorted New York rock at its finest. Think The Strokes with added swagger and vocal precision. 

Two Sisters in Love finds us in BRMC territory with David Baldwin and Emille Mosseri dividing vocal duties between verse and choruses. Choppy riffs and hyperactive tremolo picking combine well, as the volume swells and swells, Jamie Alagre forges a unique beat.

Its unusual to find a band with two singers of equal calibre usually one is just feeding his ego to the detriment of the band as a whole or whats commonly known as "Its my song and I'm singing it syndrome" Thankfully this is not the case with The Dig..Look Inside which has featured on the popular Unites States TV show The Vampire Diaries, is built upon a bed of swerving synths and sprightly muffed bass and features a Johnny Greenwoodeusque guitar line. Elements of The Who and the Kings of Leon are also evident.

The Dig have just finished touring with the Editors and have hit the road once more. It surely wont be long before they are heading to the UK and Ireland as they will be laped up by KOL, BRMC and BJM fans. Electric Toys is already available in America and with a European release due later in the year. We finally have a Baldwin we can believe in. Also check out this live acoustic set