The Ground Will Shake’s debut album – Review
This week the current state of rock and roll was questioned by Billy Corgan who declared it an uphill battle for guitar bands, before saying that Radiohead were “probably the last band that really did anything new with the guitar.” And while the Smashing Pumpkins frontman may have a point when bemoaning the lack of innovation, he should remember that straight up rock still has its place in today’s musical landscape. This traditional, no frills approach is one taken by Dublin’s The Ground Will Shake on their self-titled debut. Produced by the Radiators’ Pete Holidai and Gavin Glass, it’s an album which wears its rockabilly and new wave influences on its leather jacketed sleeves.
Opening with the punchy ‘Engine Heart’, a radio friendly alternative rock song built around a solid 4/4 beat and staccato chords, the production is clean without sounding too polished but the band’s influences don’t come to the fore immediately. On ‘Rolling Sixteen’, a rockabilly stomp which works in some neat harmonies through its chorus, we get more of a flavour of what’s to come. ‘Reno’ is driven by a Stereophonics-esque riff, while the menacing verse of ‘The State’ recalls Diesel Park West at their best. ‘Pretty Things (Bleed)’ hints at a slow quiet number but soon bursts into life, the vocals reminiscent of Stiff-era Elvis Costello.
The pace of the record changes completely with the acoustic ‘Devil’s Tower’, and ‘Black Manhattan’ has none of the urgency that characterises the first half of the album. Maybe TGWS want to show another side, mix it up maybe, but they’re unnecessary pitstops that halt the relentless rhythm of the album. Thankfully normal service resumes with the closing trio of songs which absolutely tear home. ‘The Flood’ is another 50s rocker, with echoes of Stray Cats and early Wonder Stuff. Likewise ‘The Man I Should Be’ and ‘King Of The Bones’ are good ol’ dirty rock’n’roll numbers in the vein of greaser bands like Rocket From The Crypt and The Living End.
Clocking in at just over half an hour, it’s an album that will appeal to fans of the above mentioned acts as well as those partial to our own Imelda May and The Minutes. No fuss, no frills, just hooks and riffs, The Ground Will Shake have come up with a fine debut that even Billy Corgan would find hard to resist.
The Ground Will Shake is released 31 July.
Review by Keith McGouran