05.02.13 | Comments Off on New Irish Sounds: Peter Delaney
The name: Peter Delaney.
The deal: Limerick-born songwriter, photographer and filmmaker Peter Delaney has been releasing music since 2007, when a ukulele-fuelled seven-tracker called Duck Egg Blue earned him support slots with Fionn Regan and The Swell Season. 2013 brings something new, a ten-track home-recorded LP called Witch Bottle, along with an Irish mini-tour and an appearance at this weekend’s Camden Crawl Dublin.
The sound: sweet, rustic and gorgeously unfussy.
Although first and foremost a fan of folk and traditional music, this creaky-voiced crooner could really slink into any genre, so emotive is his delivery and so uncomplicated his technique.
The first taster of Witch Bottle comes in the form of ‘My Eyes Are Blessed’, a fiendishly clever acoustic ballad which has been knocking around the Delaney repertoire since 2008, and featured on his Live In Amsterdam album in 2010. It finds the quick-witted songwriter inviting listeners to cut his nose off and set his ears on fire, all in the name of a little spiritual romance.
Elsewhere on the album, you’ll hear enough lilting melody and lyrical raconteurship to put you right to sleep. There’s even a track called ‘The Becalming’ for crying out loud.
If it’s a live preview you’re after, here’s Delaney and his trusty ukulele starring in a dreamy Myles O’Reilly short and putting his thoroughly un-Copper Face Jacks sound to work on some steps outside Copper Face Jacks…
He says: “It’s a very simple set-up, just me and the ukulele…” – from this Flip It TV interview.
I say: Simplicity in pop music can be pretty risky, but it works wonderfully for Delaney on this LP.
What now? stream the full album here, and see him live at the Camden Crawl Dublin on Sunday in the Stag’s Head, hosted by Aoife Barry of Sweet Oblivion. You’ll also find him in Dolan’s, Limerick on May 11, De Burgos, Galway on May 24 and Upstairs in Whelan’s, Dublin on May 31.
04.15.13 | Comments Off on Record Store Day: The Best of Irish
So, here’s the thing. In trying to answer some questions about the modern music-buying community (are most of them online? how much do they spend? how can we get them to breed? etc. ), we’ve all been able to poke holes in the Record Store Day format. We’ve all seen the proof that one big, fat day of booming sales isn’t enough to save the countless great record shops in Ireland and abroad from being forced out of existence. There’s also been lots of talk about major label bogeymen and Ebay pre-sales over the last 12 months, giving RSD a bad rap.
For me, the bottom line is that Record Store Day still works as a sales tactic. In 2012, vinyl sales were up more than 50% on the previous year’s event, and some shops enjoyed a sales hike of over 100% compared to 2011. Granted, Record Store Day won’t save the music industry, but it’s a worthwhile reminder to music-lovers to spend a little bit of cash.
The other thing is, I love Record Store Day and I always have a really, really great time getting my fingers dusty and chatting to people before and after gigs.
Last year, I treated myself to this completely dreamy collection of tracks from Bill Evans’ Live At Top Of The Gate on cobalt blue vinyl, murdered some free ice cream, caught some live music in the Twisted Pepper and used a trip to a handful of record stores as an excuse to pick up non-Record Store Day bounty, including circular physical versions of the Mmoths EP and Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth’s The Main Ingredient. This year, I’ll be figuring out whether or not I can justify Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready To Die on 2 LPs of white vinyl, and also weeping a little that I agreed to work on April 20.
In the meantime, I’ve been having a listen to some of the best Irish-made RSD releases, and scared up a list of some of the free live music you can hear on the day itself.
I Am The Cosmos – Monochrome vinyl LP
The debut collaborative album from Jape and Lisa Hannigan drummer Ross Tuner and genre-hopping composer Cian Murphy, Monochrome set the blogosphere’s collective heart aflutter in February when it was released online as a free download via Brooklyn music site Noisey. If you haven’t heard it already, hop to it. A swirling collection of moody, ambient electronica, the nine-tracker deserves every bit of hype it gets and will sound positively hypnotic on wax. Psst. Look out for appearances from Cloud Castle Lake man Daniel McAuley, who lends his glass-breaking falsetto to ‘Esque’, and Solar Bears’ Rian Trench, who tickles the ivories on ‘Lost Rhythm.’
Limited to 250 copies. Available in Elastic Witch.
Wizards Of Firetop Mountain – ‘Sonic War’/’Dollar Hips’ 7″ vinyl
Despite what my current musical diet might suggest (since you asked, groove-led hip hop and R&B all the way), nothing gets my blood pumping faster than the words Wizards Of Firetop Mountain, which have come to represent a highly glamorous Irish reincarnation of ’70s-style Stateside rock and ’80s metal. As part of this year’s Record Store Day celebrations, two of the band’s signature tracks, ‘Sonic War’ and ‘Dollar Hips’ are being packaged into one, neat little 7″, complete with possessed riffing, demonic percussion and gut-busting yelps. It’s no substitute for seeing the wildly addictive fivesome perform, mind, but at only five beans, it’s an absolute steal.
Limited to 250 copies. Available for preorder here.
Record Store Gay Compilation on CD and melody pop
I’m not even going to pretend that someone didn’t send me an advance copy of this, and that I haven’t already listened to the whole thing several times and that it’s not totally brilliant and completely mad in equal measures. The tracklist has yet to be officially announced, but if you scroll down the page a bit, you’ll find details for the April 20 all-dayer, which will give you a good idea of the calibre of artist we’re talking about. The deal is this; 15 Irish acts, each covering a gay anthem of their choosing. Although I’m sworn to secrecy on the finer details, I will say this; there are some tracks on here that could, nay should, be international cult hits, and a couple that are so deliciously enslaving, they should probably come as standard with every new iTunes account. Oh, and as the above graphic suggests, the marvellous Patrick Kelleher does indeed cover Bronski Beat’s ‘Smalltown Boy’. What more could you actually want from life?
Limited to 200 CDs, available at the show, and a play-along-with-melody-pop single for each band.
Ghost Estates and Twinkranes – ‘In Waves’ and ‘The Wizard’ 7″ vinyl
Progressive trio Twinkranes and psyche rockers Ghost Estates have teamed up for a joint 7″ comprising two tracks, which you can stream here and here. Twinkranes have plumbed for a proudly abstract cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘The Wizards’, while Ghost Estates have chosen to debut their first new release since 2012’s LP, a terribly poppy, vintage-sounding guitar number called ‘In Waves’. A bit of a contradiction, this, but a cleverly executed one all the same.
Limited to 250 copies.
Funeral Suits – Lily Of The Valley vinyl LP
The fiendishly sunny electro pop opus that is Lily Of The Valley finally gets a wax release on April 20 and if you’ve heard the album and you have access to a record player, this will probably come as very good news. Stephen Street’s production is sure to sound even glossier in the old school format, especially on tracks like the metaphysical pop jam above, and the swoonish ‘Hands Down’, the video for which I have dubbed too disturbing to post in a friendly Record Store Day round-up such as this (but do check it out if you haven’t seen it, because it is rather good).
The Hot Sprockets – Soul Brother 7″ vinyl
They had me at ‘Love TKO’… Just in time for RSD, and, might I add, moshing season, country rock stalwarts The Hot Sprockets have come up with a brand new, typically rabble-rousing number called ‘Soul Brother’, a song so buoyantly chirpy, I feel like it would be wrong to listen to it without making room for recreating an action-packed movie montage afterward. ‘Soul Brother’ also precedes the band’s second album, which we can expect to see on shelves later in the year.
NOTE: The above video, directed by the perpetually awesome Finn Keenan, is arguably more violent than Funeral Suits’ ‘Hands Down’, but just remember that dismemberment is not always an accurate measure of on-screen creepiness.
The Holy Sparks!!!
Ickis Mirolo & Margie Lewis
Seeping into Cinemas
Lights Camera Sundown
I Heart The Monster Hero
Little x’s For Eyes
04.04.13 | Comments Off on Behind The Gig: Rams’ Pocket Radio
“Part of me thinks that music should be like that all the time…” – Peter McCauley
Fresh from touring with pop rock colossus Snow Patrol, Lisburn multi-instrumentalist Rams’ Pocket Radio, AKA Peter McCauley, is juuuuust about ready to put the finishing touches on his debut album, which comes to us after two years of epic, orchestral pop ditties in the form of three EPs and a handful of singles.
But first, some gigs… and no ordinary gigs, neither.
Bushmills Irish Whiskey, whose partnerships with Bon Iver, Best Coast and, my personal favourite Chromeo, officially made them the Irish distillery with the finest taste in music, are welcoming Bushmills Irish Honey to the family, and have asked Rams, along with Belfast-based Indie pop fivesome Runaway Go and acoustic rock ‘n’ roller VerseChorusVerse, to give them a helping hand.
Tonight (April 4, for those of you reading from the future), they’ll come together for an intimate gig in Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre, before hitting the road and doing it all over again tomorrow night (April 5) in Whelan’s, Dublin.
Rams will also perform a secret Dublin city centre show tomorrow in a handcrafted honey hive, lovingly put together by a team of artisan craftsman using – and here’s the really clever part! – wood from Bushmills Irish Whiskey casks.
Earlier in the week, I tracked Peter down for a chat about the upcoming shows, and to find out a little bit more about the man behind the tunes…
The folk at Bushmills have been pretty secretive about this handcrafted honey hive you’re going to be performing in. Have you seen it?
No! I’m eagerly anticipating what it’s going to be like. I’m thinking it’ll be some sort of horseshoe of whiskey casks all stacked up, like an igloo, but I’m purely speculating, I actually don’t know!
How well do you know the other guys on the bill for the Whelan’s and Oh Yeah Centre shows, Runaway Go and VerseChorusVerse?
I’m good friends with the guys in Runaway Go, especially Dave and Javed. Dave’s the singer and Javed’s the drummer and I would hang out with them a good bit, so we’re all buddies. Then VerseChorusVerse, I’ve known Tony for years. We all bump into each other all the time.
I know you played in bands and orchestras before Rams’ Pocket Radio. Was a creative solo project always part of the bigger plan?
In the orchestra I never really felt at home. I don’t know how I managed to play in that orchestra for so long because I don’t actually think I could ever read music properly and it’s kind of difficult when you’re sitting with music in front of you! In bands, I was always playing drums, and would have written songs for other people to sing, and I wanted to be more involved in the writing process. Eventually I just started to write songs, and then it was like, ‘I’ll sing them, I’ll actually do this thing’.
What’s the writing process like now that you’re on your own?
It’s drums and piano and singing at the forefront, but I’m looking at it as something totally free, freedom to just create something in the studio or on the computer or to record someone else to play. On my record that’s just about to come out, I’ve got different drummers on there, I’ve got different guitar players, different string players, different vocalists, it doesn’t really matter whether I’m playing it or not, that wouldn’t be a big deal to me, as long as the part is right and it says something.
Clearly, being in bands hasn’t put you off the idea of collaborating with other artists…
A collaboration can be amazing, but if you’re in a band where people are pulling in all different directions, it can just be rubbish. I used to be in a band that was half emo and half prog, which is just a terrible idea, nobody’s going to like that, but of course, we liked it. But it is very chilled out for me, I can just sort of do whatever I want. And I do enjoy collaborations, I’ve been doing a few recently, I was doing stuff with David C. Clements, and working on something with Duke (Special), but nothing’s come of it.
You’ve cited aesthetic disciplines like your background in architecture and, obviously, the designs of Dieter Rams as influences many times; how do they inspire the way you make music?
I guess I never thought of architecture as an aesthetic thing, I would always think about the concept of it and this is something that maybe got in the way of me making good architecture. I always thought, ‘Why do you do that?’, ‘Why is the room square?’, ‘Why are the stairs like that?’ I was kind of interested in those conceptual things and I got really used to rationalising things and working through the creative process in a disciplined way so, for me, those things translate really simply.
A lot of music fans will have seen you on tour with Snow Patrol last year. What was the most valuable thing about doing those huge shows?
A few good things came out of it. Firstly, it just broadened the fan base across Europe, so when we played our first show in Amsterdam following those shows, people turned up that said they’d never heard of me before, it was amazing. I know there are a good few people that got in contact with me on Facebook and Twitter and stuff who are excited about the record and want me to come back and play. I suppose playing on a big stage was a new experience, getting to try your show for 10,000 people and fill that stage. There were lots of different ways that people in different cities reacted to us, and it was just mental in general, it was brilliant! But I kind of have this idea now, that it would be really cool to bunch together and keep the show really small on a big stage.
What can we expect from the Bushmills Irish Honey gigs in the Oh Yeah Centre and Whelan’s?
I’ve been practicing with some of my friends, lots of different people who make music in different capacities and the theme of the night really is friends coming together to do something cool, that Bushmills idea of great things happenning when friends come together. I’ve got a couple of guys who are drummers, a friend who plays lead guitar, a couple of girls, one’s playing trumpet, one’s playing cello, and I’m going to be singing with some local artists, too. Allie Bradley is going to be joining me, and the guys from Runaway Go, Dave and Fiona are going to come up and do wee duets with me at different points. It’s going to be a really fun, just chilled out night of making music together, so the people who go will experience something of a jam. Part of me thinks that music should be like that all the time!
Rams’ Pocket Radio, Runaway Go and VerseChorusVerse play Belfast’s Oh Yeah Centre tonight (April 4), and Whelan’s Dublin, tomorrow night (April 5). Admittance to these gigs is by invite-only, but Cool FM, NI’s Daily Mirror and Daily Mirror Ireland are all offering opportunities to win tickets.
Rams’ Pocket Radio’s debut album is due for release later in the year. In the mean time, you can download a free EP of demos here.
03.23.13 | Comments Off on New Irish Sounds: Rob Kelly
The name: Rob Kelly.
The deal: Wexford’s long-standing rap innovator with friends in very high places, Rob Kelly is already a decade into his career, but, after threatening to break into the mainstream a dozen or so times, the razor-sharp rapper is finally getting the attention he deserves, and it’s all down to a deliciously threatening number called ‘Jack The Ripper’. The rumour mill hints that he’s already signed to a record label in the States but, for now, at least, he’s keeping details of the follow-up to 2006’s Bragging Rights under his hat.
The sound: frankly, a little bit scary, if you’ve got any reason to believe you’re in Rob’s bad books. Choice lyrics include, ‘So play me sweet, get a cavity, I’ll have your front door looking like the fucking sons of anarchy’, ‘I got the hots for a fist fight, a Jones for a bare-knuckle scrapping, I’ll box your teeth in, now try rapping’, and ‘Seriously, I am going to murder you all’ (actually, I just added the last one for fun). Clearly, this is one rhymer who’s been around too long to bother with mincing words, and his trouble-starting tunes are all the more powerful for it.
New single ‘Jack The Ripper’ is Kelly’s grimiest, lushest, most addictive track yet, thanks in part to the vintage-sounding production of Zombie Computer man Scimon Tist (incidentally, have you heard the only massive Robin G-sized anthem he made with DJ John Gibbons and Rebecca Creighton of X Factor 2010 fame? Here it is. Good, right?)
There’s no denying that Kelly has a way with words, but for all his bombastic lyric-weaving (a personal fave; ‘PG Tips monkey always see me with the hot-tie’), there’s generally a softness or slickness to the melody that keeps cliché at bay.
He says:‘Sinister rap, put your head in your hat/Hit your wifey on the neck, leave her dead in your lap.’ – ‘Jack The Ripper’
I say: Pre-Coco Ice-T famously noted that ‘Pimpin’ ain’t easy,’ but what he couldn’t possibly have predicted was just how difficult pimpin’ would be in post-bailout, unemployment-ridden, property tax-torn Ireland… that is, very difficult indeed. As evidenced by the video for ‘Jack The Ripper’, Kelly’s figured out a way to simultaneously embrace and ignore our economic calamities, all the while pimpin’ harder than On Gangs-era Ross Kemp and Snatch-era Alan Ford combined (although, in fairness, I sort of have to say that, lest he murder my wife.)
03.10.13 | Comments Off on New Irish Sounds: Kevin Murphy
The name: Kevin Murphy (not to be confused with hundreds of other people called Kevin Murphy).
The deal: A singer-songwriter from Cork with Jeff Buckley-sized lungs, a knack for writing heavy-hearted songs and something of a potty mouth, Kevin Murphy is not hugely well known, except on Soundcloud, where his tracks have racked up listens in excess of 10,000.
He’s just released his debut album LoveHate (not to be confused with the RTÉ crime drama of the sort-of same name), a seven-song LP recorded in the UK with Belgian producer KONOBA, featuring the occasional cameo from Brighton singer Ellie Ford.
The sound: I have little to no interest in schmaltz, which means that I usually pass on high-drama acoustic melancholy, the kind of which Kevin Murphy is really terrific at creating. Of course, even bull-headed journalists like myself have souls, and mine was seriously shaken by ‘Your Version’, a solitary anti-love song, propelled forward by gushing harmonies.
I think my favourite thing about Murphy’s voice is that it doesn’t do too much of anything; there are flips and hums and whispers and trills, and the vocals often get layered up to astonishing effect, but it never sounds fussy or overdone. His lyrics, which are, at times, cripplingly tortured and intense, work in a similar way; lines like ‘This demon won’t fuck off…’ on ‘Demon’ take the formality out of the song’s emotion, without making light of it.
02.24.13 | Comments Off on Seven Days, Seven Sounds
A week is a long time in Irish music.
The past seven days have brought film premieres (this), album announcements (this), festival updates (this), and the sad news that the future of one of Dublin’s most creative venues is in jeopardy (this). They also brought us lots of wonderful new things to watch and hear, some of which I’ve decided to rave about in chronological order below. Here you’ll find seven handsome, innovative pieces of music that sound nothing alike.
Proof that, in the words of the great Louis C.K., “‘I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say.”
SUNDAY, February 17
Solar Bears Supermigration teaser
A stunning preview of both the second album from electronic duo Solar Bears and the film of the same name, directed by Michael Robinson, this clip feels plays out like a marvellous multi-sensory attack. Snippets of the expansive new songs, ‘A Sky Darkly’, ‘Our Future Is Underground’, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Spacestation’, ‘Rainbow Collision’ and ‘You And Me (Subterranean Cycles)’ are bringing up some completely unforeseen references (I can’t help hearing Bob James and, weirdly, Minnie Ripperton), while the accompanying visuals are about as fabulous as abstract art gets.
MONDAY, February 18
Faces Cruising EP
I talked about this scarily talented young man a few weeks back; Faces is a 17-year-old hip hop producer who has resolved to release a new EP of instrumentals every month in 2013 and Cruising is the latest collection in the series. A vibrant, horn-filled four-tracker with a little jungle groove thrown in for good measure, it sees Faces take his classic hip hop sound in a jazzier direction and, as with January’s Mountains, you’re invited to name your price.
TUESDAY, February 19
New Jackson ‘Sat Around Here Waiting’
The experimental brainchild of songwriter David Kitt and producer Diamond Dagger, New Jackson have allowed us to preview their debut EP Sat Around Here Waiting with its bouncy, shapeshifting title track. A bizarre and danceworthy ride through countless genres under the electronic banner, ‘Sat Around Here Waiting’ has some seriously severe beats as part of its musical make-up, yet it never feels cold or industrial.
WEDNESDAY, February 20
Ciara ‘Got Me Good’ (Monto remix)
I can barely talk about this because I love it so much, but do try to bear with me. ‘Got Me Good’ is the first single from the forthcoming fifth (yes, fifth!) album by Ciara ‘1, 2 Step’ Harris, a lady you’ll probably remember from the heady days of pre-vocoder pop, when she mostly danced around with Missy Elliott and unintentionally prompted young women to give ab crunches another go. The admirably ballsy ‘Got Me Good’ sounds down right crazy after Monto takes his skillful hand to it; the Wicklow producer’s remix is all lightning speed cuts, ping-ponging beats, deepened vocals and throbbing synths. And it’s free. And I’ve listened to it about 40 times in the past 24 hours. Dear Lord.
THURSDAY, February 21
Willow Beats ‘From Under The Ground’ (SertOne’s Aquatrap mix)
‘From Under The Ground’, a track from the self-titled EP of Melbourne electronic duo Willow Beats, is a pretty complicated affair, which is precisely why SertOne‘s stripped-back remix is so sneakily clever. Under Sert’s command, the song becomes lighter, glossier and, to my ears at least, more glamorous. Another home run from the Liverpool-based Irishman, who you might be interested to know has formed a duo with UK producer Bolts called Almighty Sion.
FRIDAY, February 22
Le Galaxie ‘The Nightcaller’ music video
Taken from Le Galaxie’s Fade 2 Forever EP, ‘The Nightcaller’ Feat. Laura Smyth gets visual accompaniment in the form of this all-out tripfest, the impressive work of Greg Corcoran and Steve MacDevitt. A cast of human dancers are made infinitely more interesting with some terribly fancy digital enhancement, which fits in perfectly with Le Galaxie’s retro-futuristic sound. If ever there was a case for watching things in HD, this baby is it.
SATURDAY, February 23
Loud Mouth Compilation Volume Five
Almost two years after the first release from Dublin’s Loud Mouth creative collective, a fifth compilation hits virtual shelves, featuring tracks from underground producers Benny Smiles, Luke B, Gemsmiff, I.T.I.S. and Blake, Conall, Leigh, Ciaran, KiKi, Dark Passenger, Archetype, Rusty Child and Calzone Kelly. At 15 tracks long, it’s a monster of a record, but the songs, which range from the ambient and minimal to the bold and poppy, are diverse enough to keep you interested.
02.01.13 | Comments Off on New Irish Sounds: Faces
The name: Faces.
The deal: a producer, hip hop lover and damn fine salesman (more on that later), 17-year-old beatmaker Faces operates as deep down as the Irish underground goes. There’s no Soundcloud page, no hype-generating Facebook profile, no Twitter account to speak of, and he doesn’t give his real name. For now, you can only find him at this nifty Bandcamp page, which promises a new EP every month in 2013. January’s Name Your Price release Mountains was one of my most-played musical things of the month, a powerful relaxant, bearing five dreamy, groove-led instrumentals.
After this, what we know about Faces boils down to two points; he’s a member of Californian creative movement Organized Threat, regularly hooking up with other artists on their impressive roster, and he’s not above using his talent to make a quick buck. He’s actually the first producer I’ve seen sell his beats via Bandcamp (most opt for rocbattle.com or beatbrokerz.com), but it strikes me as a rather clever way to do business. Plus, the tracks in question are dynamite.
The sound: hypnotic, woozy and uncomplicated, but that’s just part one of 12, remember.
01.20.13 | Comments Off on New Irish Sounds: mynameisjOhn
The name: mynameisjOhn, and don’t forget that capital O.
The deal: A man from Clare who knows his way around a Kaoss pad.
A DJ and beatmaker extraordinaire, the genre-fusing producer behind mynameisjOhn (real name John Lillis) has given us some seriously thought-provoking electronica over the past two years. Citing such musical paragons as Sir Isaac Newton, Martin Luther King, and Carl Sagan as influences, Lillis has churned out three terrific EPs to date, all built with a “grá for a dollop of hiphop, electronica, psych rock and straight-up paranoia.”
(I also enjoy his views on cheese, which are set free in this Flip It TV interview from 2011.)
The sound: complex, cosmopolitan, provocative.
MynameisjOhn does not employ his own voice in his songs, preferring to let a cast of masterfully sampled and mind-bogglingly diverse players do the philosophising for him. Take for example 2011’s ‘Dia Dhuit’, which splices Judy Lynn’s ‘Hello Mr. DJ’ with Natalie Cole’s ‘Nature Boy’ and a 1991 interview with Rakim, all in the first 80 seconds.
While many of mynameisjOhn’s tracks carry a metaphysical message of some sort, this is not all they have in common; across all three EPs, you’ll find adept experimentation, some invariably badass grooves and a great big dose of rhythmic cunning.
The Focussing Effect, a seven-track mini-album which was released this past December, pushes the boundaries of melody a little further than before, bearing a sound that bravely combines the maximal with the minimal.
He says: “F U C K G E N R E S .”
I say: Fuck genres if you want, just keep playing demented mixologist with them and nobody gets hurt.
01.04.13 | Comments Off on 50 Irish Things I Liked In 2012
You’ve probably had enough of End Of Year lists by now, so I’ll spare you the ranking and measuring and categorising and commentating that usually comes with any form of musical reportage published at the end of a year.
Instead, you’ll find a simple collection of EPs, tracks, music videos, performances and remixes made partially, or completely by Irish hands that I doted on during 2012. My initial brainstorm yielded about 90 things, but after telling myself how ridiculous that list would be, I whittled it down to 50 based on how much I listened to said work over the past 12 months. Then I alphabetised it using an online tool, because, hey, I’m not a librarian.
12.17.12 | Comments Off on New Irish Sounds: HUNK!
The name: HUNK!
The deal: An exciting product of the oft-overlooked girl-boy-girl formula, lo-fi trio HUNK! became my new favourite band the minute I heard their name, which reminded me of the greatest book ever published. But enough about Tom Selleck.
With just a handful of gigs under their belt, Hunk! release their debut cassette single, or cassingle if you will, today and there’s nary a single sleigh bell or a jovial ho ho ho! in earshot. Instead you’ll find heavy duty guitar pop and a delectable peek at a band in the early stages of its evolution.
The sound: gutsy, grungy and punk-infused.
Roughed-up girl group harmonies, monster percussion and reverb-laden riffage may give these tunes a vintage feel but HUNK! is an undeniably 21st Century band. Describing their songs as “the first rung on a long ladder of learning,” they’re doing the very Twenty Ten thing of documenting their progression online, starting with the first tracks they ever wrote.
Rhythmic rollercoaster ‘I Want To Be Brave’ (above) and the manically scuzzy ‘Laidbare’ are among their most primitive numbers, while newbies ‘Dupe’ and ‘Hold Out’ veer a little further into singalong territory. Released with the help of Scotland’s Soft Power Records, ‘Dupe’ is the perfect track to lead HUNK!’s first ever cassette single, masterfully mixing sweet harmonies with throbbing rhythms and rugged musical flourishes.