IT’S been over half a year, but Dublin is finally getting the ‘launch’ gig of Girl Band’s stunning debut album Holding Hands With Jamie.
The Dubliners are set for their biggest hometown show yet in Vicar Street tonight, and it’ll be a victory lap from the off.
Singer Dara Kiely was very frank about his mental health issues in the lead-up to recording the album, and the band had to cancel several rounds of shows in the last few months, including a show at Dublin’s Button Factory in November — which would’ve been their biggest show to date at the time.
Since the LP’s release in October there’s been plenty of time to digest the snarling, writhing, visceral mission statement — one of the most thrilling Irish guitar albums in years. The hype was strong with this one, and I even got roped into queueing up at R.A.G.E. Records on Fade Street at midnight to buy a copy of the vinyl.
Thankfully they came through, and while Holding Hands With Jamie may fall one step short of their shattering live shows, it was the Irish album of the year for me, even though no one can begrudge SOAK the Choice Prize over the bookies’ favourites.
Holding Hands… stretches Girl Band’s raw material to the limits — their clanging, choppy riffs, feedback collages and fiercely inventive lines drawled by Kiely. Throw a dart at the vinyl lyric sheet and you’ll hit a random abstract references to Colombo, Jurgen Klinsmann, “scabby Nikes”, garlic curry cheese chips, Lynx Africa or “Throwing biscuits up O’Connell Street”, along with explicit recollections of mental health appointments.
This is a band who’ve ditched the cheeseball narrative song and dead-end blues rock influences. It doesn’t sound like they spent their teen years learning off Thin Lizzy or Led Zeppelin riffs to play in cover bands. Holding Hands, along with their 2012 EPs In My Head and France 98 suggest an obsession with guitar sound design itself, with space in constant conflict with metallic scrapes, feedback swirls and giddy time signatures.
They repurpose all best bits of your favourite post-punk records, avoiding the studied moodiness of Interpol or the raised eyebrows of LCD Soundsystem, for the wired scrapiness of PiL, Jesus Lizard or The Pop Group, with insistent techno and hypnotic repetition thrown in there.
They’ve just secured a high-profile slot at this summer’s Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, but in the meantime, this’ll be a noisy sort of homecoming.
- Girl Band play Dublin’s Vicar Street tonight. Get tickets here.