Interview with Beach Slang...

Hailing from Philadelphia, punk rock four piece Beach Slang are a badly needed shot of adrenaline for a stagnant music scene devoid of any real excitement. Keith McGouran caught up with lead singer James Alex ahead of their Dublin gig in the Workman’s Club on Monday 23rd January.

Metz live @ Whelans, Dublin 6 November 2015...

Rock music is in safe hands while bands like Toronto trio Metz exist; their brand of blitzkrieg punk noise is a refreshing reminder of why we once fell in love with rock music in the first place. At Whelan’s on Friday night, they stirred the mosh pit into action before they even took to the stage – a guitar line check was enough to set the kids at the front of the stage off and running. Metz are straight out of the garage – no pretence, no torturous self regard, just balls out, scorching guitar music with its roots in punk and hardcore. They are a one trick pony, but by God, that one trick is pretty special. Opening with ‘Headache’ from their self-titled debut, they screamed through the first four songs like they had a plane to catch, a blur of thunderous drums and distorted guitars before ‘Spit You Out’, a highlight from their recently released sophomore effort took things to a different level. The recent album is a sharper, more dynamic attack than their debut, balancing the extreme noise with a growing appreciation for pop hooks and melody; their most recent songs were undoubtedly the standout performances on the night. Even a couple of technical issues that resulted in lengthy delays between songs failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd – their best song by some distance ‘Acetate’ drew a huge reaction and a cover of the Damned’s ‘Neat, Neat, Neat’ had the more grizzled members of the audience nodding their heads in approval. They closed the set with fan favourite ‘Wet Blanket’ after just over an hour of scintillating, white hot, guitar noise that left the predominantly youthful audience aglow. For those of us who don’t get out much anymore and probably spend far too many Friday nights...

METZ – METZ II

Excitement used to be the true currency of rock and roll. The raw-boned thrill of music played at volume with nothing held back;  Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Beatles, the Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Velvet Underground,  the Sex Pistols, Nirvana; musicians who incited a primal, feral response from audiences. We are currently going through a particularly barren spell for Rock music. Some commentators have already pronounced it dead and buried. Others continue to wait, holding the view that these things go in cycles but twenty years have passed since that last truly exciting band to capture the public’s imagination had their day.  Nirvana were that band – since then Rock music has been in free-fall, the bland leading the bland. You don’t have to look very far to get a snapshot of where Rock music is at in 2015. Two of the biggest bands to emerge from this country in the last 10 years – The Script and Kodaline. Melodic, musical, technically accomplished, clean-cut, presentable. Nice. Zippo Rock. Perhaps if we look close enough we can trace the decline of Rock music back to the time when it began to elicit nothing more than a desire to whip out a lighter and hold it high in the air. Canadian trio METZ don’t do Zippo rock. They don’t sound nice or presentable. But they are exciting. In fact, they pack more excitement in the first sixty seconds of opening track ‘Acetate’ than most bands manage in a lifetime. They make a furious, taut and explosive noise that hits you right in the gut. Is it Punk? Perhaps, but there is a little more to them than that. The guitars squall and buzz, with a little hint of early Sonic Youth. The Nirvana comparison is not without some foundation...

Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love...

Last year’s release of the excellent seven album retrospective ‘Start Together’ signalled the end of a lengthy hiatus for influential Washington punk rock outfit Sleater-Kinney. It also served as a timely reminder of just how vacuous and sterile Rock music has become. Set against many of today’s leading lights on the alternative Rock scene, Sleater-Kinney’s early musical output positively burns with an incandescent vitality and rage. Albums like Call the Doctor (1996) and Dig Me Out (1997) were edgy affairs, bristling with a raw energy that betrayed the bands Washington punk rock roots. They quickly became associated with the riot grlll movement, embracing the left wing, feminist ideology that was at the heart of that scene. While this was, and still is a huge part of the bands identity, it can often overshadow one simple and unassailable truth: Sleater – Kinney are a truly great rock band and eight album No Cities To Love delivers ample evidence that this is still the case, some ten years after the release of their last album. The chemistry between Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss has always been central to their greatness – it is there in abundance on No Cities Left, the muscular riffing and dual, intertwining vocals on tracks like ‘Fangless’ and ‘Surface Envy’, something of a trademark of the band. Weiss contributes handsomely to the bands sound – her lithe, explosive drumming underpinning everything that is great about these songs. ‘ No Cities To Love’ is exuberantly melodic while ‘ A New Wave’ surprises with its almost jaunty chorus. It’s an album that is not as overtly political as some of their earlier releases; with the exception of opening track ‘Price Tag’, Sleater-Kinney steer a less confrontational course, but the lyrics still retain a sharpness, a cutting...

Iceage – Plowing Into The Field of Love...

Formed in 2008, Danish four piece Iceage started life as a punk band in the purest sense.  Their first two albums New Brigade (2011) and You’re Nothing (2013) were snarling, charmingly retro punk artefacts. What they lacked in maturity and originality was more than made up for by the sheer energy and commitment on show. They had that little something extra, an intensity and self-belief that made them stand out from the crowd of garage band hopefuls. Plowing Into The Field of Love marks a surprising shift in direction – the intensity remains but the endearingly juvenile punk wannabe leanings have been discarded. In its place we get a band that have reinvented themselves. It takes a few listens to de-scramble and figure out what’s going on here; the twists and turns, the tempo changes, the new sounds  but once these songs take root, it makes for their most rewarding album to date. Think early Nick Cave fronting a less competent, more ramshackle Bad Seeds and you get the idea. ‘The Lord’s Favourite’ is rough and ready alt-country while early highlight ‘Glassy Eyed, Dormant and Veiled’ is a sparky combination of rolling drums and Post Punk guitars, singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt making every word sound like a direct threat. The growling bass on ‘Let it Vanish’ ushers in one of a number of songs that change tempo at unexpected points – this is definitely not an album recorded to a click track. ‘Abundant Living’ is a surprisingly brief but memorably effective tune that has a certain Pogues-like quality. Plowing Into the Field marks the end of the bands ‘awkward adolescent’ stage and displays signs of a rapidly developing maturity. It still retains the energy, charm and intensity of their earlier records while striving for...

Perfect Pussy – Say Yes To Love...

Searing debut from Syracuse punk/hardcore band Perfect Pussy.

Desaparecidos live @ the Button Factory 7 February 2013...

  After treating Irish fans to a wonderful solo show on Tuesday night at the NCH, Nebraska’s finest Conor Oberst hooked up with the recently reformed Desaparecidos for a short but explosive set at Dublin’s The Button Factory on Thursday 7th February. In many ways, their brand of politically charged, post hardcore thrash seems even more relevant in these chaotic times than it did when they first hit the scene.  Desaparecidos released one album in 2002, the fantastic ‘Read Music/Speak Spanish’ before disbanding due to Obersts commitments with Bright Eyes and his solo projects. 2012 saw the release of the MariKKKopa / Backsell E.P., the bands first release in over a decade, and offered some hope that Oberst was ready to dedicate some time to this project. On the evidence of this showing, Desaparecidos could be something more than just a sideline for Oberst –this is a real band that delivered an unbelievably tight, hungry and powerful set for a group that, as Oberst confessed during the show, haven’t really rehearsed since last summer. Oberst sings and plays guitar but  there is no real sense that he is the star man –pointedly, he does not take centre stage leaving bass player and co-vocalist Landon Hedges out front. Every song from their sole album and last year’s E.P. release was greeted like a long lost friend by the fans  –scorching versions of ‘Man and Wife, The Former (Financial Planning)’,’ Greater Omaha’ and particularly ‘Backsell’ ignited the audience, who seemed to know every song word for word. Along the way, Oberst took the time to deliver pot shots at the American government, bankers and the state of Nevada but he reserved his most venomous comments for a particular Arizona lawman known for tough anti-immigration stance. Yes, we have heard this socio-political, agit-punk from other bands in the past, but it is difficult not to be swept up by the full on sonic assault and muscular riffing that underpins every Desaparecidos song. Obersts lyrics express the anger and dissatisfaction at the heart of their music as eloquently as we would expect from a song-writer of his calibre, and the music never resorts to out and out thrash, maintaining a strong melodic thrust throughout. New single ‘The Left is Right’ got an airing, and it seems that Desaparecidos have no intention of lightening things up any time soon on the evidence of this songs refrain of “ If one must die to save the 99/ Maybe it’s justified”. The band threw in a cover of ‘Spanish Bombs’ by the Clash to round off proceedings in a set that clocked in at under an hour with no encore. Let’s hope there is more to come from Desaparecidos – this was live music at its incendiary best....

Japandroids live @ The Workmans Club 16 August 2012...

It has been three years since Vancouver duo Japandroids last played Dublin to a handful of people as a support act with A Place To Bury Strangers in Whelans.  How times have changed. Hot on the heels of the release of their critically acclaimed second album, ‘Celebration Rock’, they brought their two man show back to the Workmans Club, and while not exactly full to the rafters, there was a palpable buzz of anticipation amongst those that had gathered.  Japandroids are hot at the moment, and a very mixed crowd of the devout and the curious were here to witness whether they could translate their unique brand of Geek Rock to a live setting. Opening with ‘The Boys are leaving Town’ from debut album ‘Post Nothing’, Japandroids set about delivering a set of no nonsense, balls out rock – their manifesto is simple – loud guitars, pounding drums and shouty vocals delivered with energy and full on passion. So did they exceed our expectations? Well not quite. The show lacked a certain something, never truly igniting. Perhaps it was the limitations of a two piece guitar act – no bass guitar meant the set lacked a little thunder – the sole guitar was loud but never really powerful and at times the vocals were a little flat and lacking oomph – never more evident than on their one real mid-tempo song ‘Continuous Thunder’ which should have been anthemic but just sounded tired and listless. There were some great moments – ‘The House that Heaven Built’ came close to lift off – the band readily acknowledged that this was the one song that probably dragged a lot of the audience along to the show, and the response of the crowd seemed to bear that out....