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Morning Claws / Land Lovers / F***ing Road Trip at The Menagerie

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ATL | 15:20 UK time, Monday, 5 December 2011

 

Tonight’s gig features a pleasing return for (ahem), Flipping Road Trip. The last time we saw this little lot they were melting our faces off on the floor of the Bunatee, and we were mightily impressed. Tonight is a little more restrained, as it’s 10 o’clock on a school-night and they’re up on a stage this time, but it’s still a fearsome performance.

“We’re just some aul fellas playing music we couldn’t play in the 90’s,” quips Ricki O’Rawe. This may be true, but they carry it off with a style and aplomb that many so-called ‘buzz’ bands would sell their drummer for. This is American style art-rock by the people who grew up with it, people with nothing to prove and who are willing to have fun with it. And that’s what counts.

Following that we have Dublin’s Land Lovers with their pleasant indie-pop stylings. Coming across like the mid-point between Pavement and C86, their music meanders between saccharine sweet love songs, to off the wall psychedelic musings. In many ways their music is suggestive of the Coral’s lysergic sea shanties, possessing that very special brand of looseness that can only come about after endless hours in the rehearsal studios.

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Delivered with a knockabout charm and underpinned with a fantastic drummer and more jingle-jangle than the late, great Sir Jimmy Saville, it’s a bit of a jar, following (ahem) Flipping Road Trip but the band finish strongly and seem to have made a few more fans.

Paul McIver’s vocals recall Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard, delicate and soulful. With the precise percussion of Daniel Larkin, comparisons with the Postal Service are inevitable, but it’s far from a slavish Xerox. ‘Slack Magic’ makes a welcome appearance, its muscular beat still sounding as good as it ever did, and helping build a little bit of momentum. There’s a temptation to meander with this sort of music, but there’s a discipline underlying the good-natured noodling, and there’s barely a note out of place.

Morning Claws are a confection, much like the shortbread handed out to the punters on arrival – sweet, sugar coated and not to everyone’s taste. But if you allow them to carry you away, then you’re in for a wee treat for the ears.

After an extended interval as Morning Claws set up their formidable array of synths, the band kick off with ‘Fight for your Friends’, the lead track from their brand new EP Pet Storms, Ancient Clouds. It’s a considerable departure from last spring’s taster, ‘Slack Magic’, recalling Slowdive, Beach House and even Explosions in the Sky’s earlier efforts. Layered synths curl somewhere near the Menagerie’s ceiling, and eyes shut as we’re drawn in.

Shane Horan 

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