Straight in, no messing this month. Playing catch up with my overloaded inbox.
►Keith Harkin – ‘Risk The Fall’
‘Prolific’ is the word to describe Derry-born singer-songwriter, Keith Harkin. Between his solo material, his work with the ‘Celtic Thunder’ project and other projects, he has averaged two albums a year across his 10 year full time music career. His next album, ‘On Mercy Street’ is due any day now and ‘Risk the Fall’ is the lead off single. Like all good performers and writers, Harkin makes it all seem so very effortless. In addition, he has the skill of writing songs that come from the personal but retain an everyman quality; something we can all relate to. Harkin is talented, goodlooking, has long blond hair and can surf – I absolutely hate the guy (just kidding).
►Heroes In Hiding – ‘Hospital’
I love a song with a good story, don’t you? ‘Hospital’ by Dublin’s Heroes in Hiding recounts how lead singer, Joe Carroll, fell out the back of a coach he was travelling in, landing in the middle of the motorway! Thankfully, Carroll not only survived, but the story itself, plus the sound he heard made by a piece of equipment while lying in his hospital bed, inspired him to write this song. And a damn fine slice of Indie Pop it is too, right up the street of those who like Bastille etc; modern yes, with pop sensibilities, but with just a nod to the post-punk era. The band’s debut album, ‘Curtains’ is released this month. Recorded at Windmill Studios (where else?) if it maintains the quality of ‘Hospital’, it will really justify RTE1’s claim that Heroes in Hiding will be ‘Ireland’s next indie hit makers’.
► Civil Simian – ‘Brittle’
I’ve loved this band since the first time I heard them, when we shared a stage back when I worked the other side of the musical fence. I thought they were very quirky, but clever. In the intervening years, all that has happened is that the boys have matured and have discovered the knack of writing consistently good songs that are infectious and yet still have that quirkiness I loved about them back in the day; like a modern day Doors (circa ‘The Soft Parade’), is how I think of them. For my money, Civil Simian are one of the best local bands and yet the don’t seem to get the buzz I think they deserve. I will certainly do my bit to try to raise their profile to the level they deserve.
► The Rising – ‘Last First Love’
The Rising keep going from strength to strength on the back of their debut album, ‘Coming Home’ which, despite some nameless hack’s slightly lukewarm review, shifted some serious copies and saw them play many high profile gig in London and beyond. Country music is probably THE one genre whose star is on the rise both in terms of sales and concert attendances, so we shouldn’t get sniffy about it – and like nearly any genre, when Country music is done well, it is good music. A good song is a good song is a good song etc. The Rising have taken a risk in not only replacing their previous singer, but replacing a him with a her. It’s a big change, that can’t be denied. But, this particular nameless hack believes it is the correct decision. Chantelle McAteer has a much better, fuller and more versatile voice that her predecessor – her tone is perfect for modern consumption (not a criticism). The comparisons with Lady Antebellum will be obvious, but hey, that’s not exactly a bad thing. This is a great first outing for the new Rising and, if they put right all the wee glitches that nameless hack mentioned in his previous review, everything is there for The Rising to continue their ascent.
► Periapt – ‘God Eater’
OK, those of you familiar enough with my musical preferences, will know I don’t like to go too long without a fix of the hard stuff. The hard stuff this month comes from the Portadown/Lurgan area in the form of Periapt, who I know nothing about other than what I can hear. So, I hear their influences – A.I.C., Alter Bridge, Mastodon – plenty of doomy, d-tuned riffage, vocals full of angst and anger. Excellent. Just what I like. Call it modern grunge, call it stoner rock, alt metal, who cares? For me it is a very good example of the genre, accomplished by (by the sounds of it) fairly young musicians. So really, really well done to them. The NI scene lost one of its best exponents of this style of Metal when Midnight Transmission called it a day, while another, A Little Bitter, are on hiatus. So, it is good to know there is a new generation of angst-mongers coming up behind them to carry the torch. I can’t wait to see them live and see if they are as good live as they sound in the studio. Periapt – keep an eye out for them.
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