Ones to Watch 2014 – Saturday Review

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overhead-the-albatross-wotw14-3Ones to Watch Whelan’s – Saturday, January 11th

Another day, another bunch of new bands hoping to make an impression at the Ones to Watch festival. The fourth and final day of the festival was high on quality, with several bands marking themselves out as bright prospects for the future. With such a high standard set at this festival, 2014 is looking like it’s going to be a great year for Irish music.

Photos from Saturday to follow soon

The White Chalk

Most ‘serious’ music fans deride TV talent shows, but former Voice of Ireland contestant Conor Quinn, along with his band The White Chalk, seem set to prove that some good can come from these types of shows. The White Chalk deliver a big sound to match Quinn’s soaring vocals, with keys and cello building on the standard guitar/bass/drums format. As the first band of the night in the main room, there wasn’t a huge crowd in attendance but that didn’t deter the band from delivering an energetic performance of well crafted, radio friendly songs complete with memorable hooks and Arcade Fire ‘whoa whoa’ style refrains. While their fairly mainstream sound may not be to everyone’s taste, they are a band that could definitely go places and receive a lot of airplay. Kudos must also go to guitarist Kevin Farrell for playing the mandolin and guitar at the same time on their closing track – quite the neat little trick.

See also: Ones to Watch Wednesday review

Otherkin

There’s no messing about from these lads. They don’t speak to the crowd too much and barely pause for applause between songs as they breeze through a high quality set of tunes. Heavy, distorted guitars compliment the pounding drums and bone crunching bass that get many a head bobbing along in the crowd. The band certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves as they delivered a tight performance that went down well with the punters who witnessed it. Last year saw the release of a fine EP and single and the band have plans to write and release more new material this year. If they keep up this level of quality on the new releases, then we can be sure to see them higher up the bill by this time next year.

Paddy Hanna

Grand Pocket Orchestra frontman Paddy Hanna delivered a set of soulful indie-rock songs. A solid band backed him but didn’t do anything fancy, allowing Hanna’s vocal acrobatics and occasional harmonica flourishes to take centre stage. Most of the songs were quite short and have an air of lo-fi Americana about them. His album, Leafy Stiletto is released at the end of the month and on this evidence it should make for compelling listening.

See also: Ones to Watch Thursday review (Part 1) and Ones to Watch Thursday review (Part 2)

Val Normal

It was amps up past 11 to ‘ear bleed’ as Val Normal delivered an incredible set of filthy riffs over pounding post-rock bass and drums. The big crowd lapped it up, with several people head banging along up the front. The band’s irreverent stage manner and superb musicianship certainly won over the crowd as they powered through a mostly instrumental set with the occasional screamed vocal thrown in to mix things up. If you like your music loud and heavy and enjoy bands like And So I Watch You From Afar, then you could do far worse than checking out the band’s debut album Plans? What Plans? that was released last year. A fantastic performance from a trio of fiercely talented musicians.

You might also like: Ones to Watch Friday review and photos

Overhead, The Albatross

There was barely room to breath, never mind move before the most eagerly anticipated act of the night, the sublime Overhead, The Albatross, took to the stage to close out proceedings in the main room. Huge roars greeted the band’s arrival and what followed was an exhilarating set of gorgeous instrumental tracks. The atmospheric tunes were accompanied by a pretty impressive light show. The intricate guitar work was a joy to behold. The set moved from all out rockers to lighter, quieter moments and the care and attention that was put in to every tune was a joy to witness. The band aired a couple of new tunes for the first time that went down a storm and bode well for the release of their long awaited debut album. A truly awesome live proposition, this is a band that can surely go on to great things – the new album can’t come soon enough.

Reviews by Mark O’Brien

Corner Boy

The promise created by the sight of a luxurious double bass, violin and banjo is a pleasure to behold. Such was the stage at The Village waiting to greet Corner Boy. Corner Boy is the pseudonym of folk singer and guitarist Michael D’Arcy. Launching straight into “Sunlight” an vocally led uplifting song with repeated chorus calls for “Sunlight come gather me every corner of my life“. It’s adorable and addictive. I think it’s fair to say that if you like the Mumfords, you will love Corner Boy. His clear and contemporary vocals belt out hooks, melodies and a pace that tells a story and puts a smile on your face. The foot stamping dancers in The Village think they’re at KockanStockan by the look of them. The luxury of that double bass and violin are much consumed in the two following tracks “Nowhere in Particular“ and “Ghost Town City” before an impromptu and brilliant rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Jackson“. “True North“ followed, the title track of Corner Boys’ new EP which is due out on March 14th. “Morning  Morning“ is unveiled upon us next. Well this one is a right beauty. A crowd call with faithful lyrical overtones on a musical journey with calls to “Rise Me Up”. Folk rock banjo, rising tempo, relayered verses, strings punctuated with tribal drums that would literally rise you out of a jagerbomb coma. You think it’s not gonna get any better as a finale. Then “Let’s Hit The Road“ comes out. Opening with crowd clapping, engaging again. Hollowed out vocals with guitar and repeated verse give us another go at festival season. The final section gets faster, the crowd dance more and the feet stamp louder. This is music for the people, created by a man who is clearly well travelled and highly talented. Credit to his band as well. Corner Boy is One to Want in 2014.

Gangs

A dapper quartet called Gangs took over the stage at The Village on Saturday night. Owning the venue with street wise swagger, this indie rock guitar led band loaded it up for the duration of their set. They started with “Poison“, they could have pulled off “Tonight I’m a Rock and Roll Star” such was the impact. Front man Jordan appearing very Paul Weller at times blasting out edgy urban vocals proclaiming love, life and the tales of disenfranchised youth. A bit Smiths in places, hints of Oasis, The Jam, Johnny Marr haircuts, well structured guitar layers inhabited with leading bass line riffs. These guys are on the money.

Formed in 2012 from childhood friendships, this foursome from Tallaght seem to know too much for their tender years. “Crumbs in the Bed“ lifts the roof off with it’s mod style, pace and delivery. It literally could be a secret single by The Jam. Urging the crowd closer to the stage, this front man has no fear of engagement. Bouncing into “Daisy“ a pretty little tale of reverb riffs, an enduring bass line of unrequited love and promises of “I’ll never leave you”. A newborn is next “One of Our Own“ composed only days ago. Swift delivery, polished performance. Faint reminders of Ocean Colour Scene (that could just be my own weakness for OCS). Telling his customers to get their cameras out, Jordan launches into the next track promising his punters that their footage will be loaded onto the Gangs Facebook page. Meanwhile the two guitarists, James and Dan, play on, frolicking about the stage, facing each other for guitar gusto, adding even more confidence to this performance. They know what they’re about these fellas. They’ve soaked up the best guitar genes from the last three decades and made it their own. It’s a new generation of glamorous indie rock and roll. They’ve gone from Ones to Watch 2014 to Ones to Catch 2014. Their new single titled “2.15“ is out on Feb 20th.

Check them out on Soundcloud!

Review by Ciara Sheahan

 

Lucy Ivan

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