Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Hot Sprockets at Shakedown 5th February

Sometimes appearances can be deceptive, not so with The Hot Sprockets, a Dublin five piece with a Texan tailor. The pictures of lovely Italy had not long since been straightened after The Pulpit had delighted the crowd last week at Shakedown, when the five boys took to the stage in their well worn boots.

The set opened with Midnight Train an authentic, rocky number that set the tone for the night ahead. The Hot Sprockets’ influences would roll-call a variety of artists, mostly American, from wide-ranging genres. The rolling rhythm of Age Kelly’s drums and Joe Lynch’s bass coupled with the itchy harmonica sound of Frankie Kelly, produce an acoustic narrative similar to that of Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. However the rip-roaring guitars and woozy vocals remind one of the delightful rawness captured by The Kings of Leon on Youth and Young Manhood. Although these influences are clear, the band is not simply relying on old recipes. They have taken much and added more, with flashes of blues and country music clear ingredients of the sound.

The lyrics are sung by Tim Cullen and Wayne Soper, who between them also share guitar duties. Chant really sets the crowd in motion with its Kinksesque flourish, exemplifying the bands cohesion. While some songs are frantic moments of rocking energy others are more melodic and slower paced. Sleep Shake is an example of a track that exemplifies the latter style.

The essence of any live performance is in the attitude of the performers, and that’s perhaps the bands strongest card. They are five men that play instruments very well, have long hair and beards and regularly shout whohoo and ye-haa in between lyrics about whisky and honey skipping. Its rock’n’roll that will make you want to dance, just ask anyone present at the gig. The band announce before the end they will soon be releasing new material on a, wait for it, 45. “Why on vinyl, in this modern age?” I later ask, “For the craic” they reply. While the competition in the business is strong, they have promise in abundance, and may well be ready for bigger things.

Another week goes by and another band has shown the crowd at Shakedown a rock’n’roll time.
Just straighten those pictures if you would.

review by Brian Morrissey

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Pulpit at Shakedown, Pacino’s 29th January

It’s a Friday night at Shakedown and taking to the stage are The Pulpit, hoping to impress an audience spoiled by the quality bands on show in recent times. The Pulpit are a three piece consisting of Laura Lovejoy on guitar and vocals, Evan O’ Leary on synthesizer and Neil Mooney on drums. They describe themselves as surf-pop, their influences ranging from The Cramps to The Pet Shop Boys. It’s going to be very impressive or a bit embarrassing...

There’s perhaps nothing worse than something Irish trying to be something its not, and Irish bands striving for Orange County have come and gone, leaving cringing audiences in their wake. But genres make us lazy and when your good, stereotypes need not apply. Such is the case with The Pulpit; their creative output is driven by an energy that sets them apart from standard acts.

The tone is set from the start with ‘Everyday Authority’ capturing the audiences attention immediately, Lovejoy’s guitar coursing through their sound, heads nodding in approval. ‘Political Correctness Gone Mad’, the first track on the bands EP, is witty and brave, challenging the hypocritical cynicism in society. The bands members are each very good at their individual roles and they combine to create something really cool. The drums and synthesizer are tight and precise, creating a platform for the ranging riffs, their diversity demonstrated over the course of the set list. ‘I’m a Wonderful Human Being’ slows things down a little bit, Lovejoy’s voice suited to the optimism in the lyrics. She has quite a unique voice that sounds composed and edgy at the same time.

‘Love is Denied’ sounds a lot like The Coral with a female singer, an interesting mix indeed. The crowd is fully enthralled by the time ‘We are the Pulpit’ is delivered, an instrumental track that, as its title suggests, encapsulates the essence of the band. Its fast, energetic, funky and the crowd just love it. The band has a collective confidence that only comes with a lot of effort and in turn allows their substantial talent to emerge. Their sound is as full and effective as it needs to be, and within their capabilities they can create music that sounds innovative and diverse.

They are striking in that they seem to know exactly what they want to be, something that many young bands strive for, but few achieve. Before the end they cover Blondie’s ‘Call Me’, a nod to the days gone by when music was cool because that’s what music was. But in the era of materialistic whining, where cool is a packaged good, The Pulpit are taking from the past to give to the present. Those lucky enough to have heard them already are better off for the experience, and if you haven’t you could do a lot worse than listen here.

REview by Brian Morrissey