Some recent singles from Fred, The Aluskas, The Mandolas & The Urges get the once over.
The Mandolas – My Greatest Day Technically proficient, and traditional instrument-savvy, Cork’s The Mandolas‘ debut EP My Greatest Day hit my desk around about the same time as the sun. By desk I mean the bonnet of a burnt out car, and by sun, I mean the blindingly yellow spread of urine from my cacks. Bless these countrified urchins, they’ve saved my day from sobriety.
The record is a merry old sing along, possibly in the steerage bar of a death ship on the way to a life’s graft laying down the tracks of the great American railway. Four vocalists share the lead, and add in washes and swells of harmony. There’s elements of a kind of jaunty, bovine ELO and occasionally they drift into a less ephemeral Fleet Foxes area, but everything they do is Irish. Or Oirish. It’ll depend where they end up. If it’s a building site in Munich, it’s authentic, but I reckon they’re more of the support act on the Corrs’ tour type band, given the blithe precision with which it all is rendered. And sure why not. Begorragh, these lads will be zillionaires in no time. Now, where’s that meths, I need a bath.
The Urges – Fire Burning/ I’ve Been Here Before The cover, a psychedelic With The Beatles, will suggest all you need know here, and the music just as you would expect; the slow motion scene from a Guy Ritchie flick, where our hero, possibly with a blackened eye and a spot of claret on his blazer, all Saville Row and paisley and what have you, lumbers through a pool hall while pwopah naughty geezahs and dudes in cardigans and pork pie hats sink eight balls amid the low hanging haze of Lambert and Butlers. Mopeds. Macintoshes. More pork pie hats. Ben Sherman. Ronnie Wood. Chelsea boots. Birds in miniskirts and scrawls of mascara. Et Cetera.
The PR suggests this double a side is “commercial” and that there’s no reason why The Urges can’t be as big as The Black Keys. Despite the punchy production, layers of horns, and proficient eye for period details, this is more like the music that Supergrass had to eventually give up on. It’s pretty good, but the occasional nod to the twenty first century wouldn’t go amiss. It’s what the Black Keys would do.
The Aluskas – Where We Started Out/ Strawberry Jam This is The Aluskas second single, and chimes in with a kind of sunny, countrified stomp with a slightly ambitious chorus that almost doesn’t quite come off. They sound like they wear their hats at a jaunty angle and play with a smile, which is nice. B-side Strawberry Jam opens with the word WOMAN. It’s marvellous, as if any of these nice young men would actually talk to a female in this way. The tune itself is kind of endearingly chaotic, each rock and roll idiom they try to ape just ever so slightly under hit and the mangled guitar solos buzzing off each other at the end are completely hilarious.
Fred – Villains/ The Life Behind Saving the best til last department; Cork stalwarts, Fred, with a couple of tracks taken from last years Leaving My Empire. It’s Steve Albini producing the Ronettes. Clearlake meets Arcade Fire. The drumming is so loud, so powerful, that you simply must shut the fuck up and listen. Some others among this revue may take heed. Click tracks have a purpose. Two excellent, well balanced, well played pieces of pop with a purpose with choruses that one could conceivably croon along to. Proper songwriting, worthy of a playing on a Vodafone ad full of young people having conspicuous amounts of “fun”. Yes, that good.