Establishing your own musical identity can be a hard task, especially if the genre you operate in is strongly identified with a certain scene or country. And by country, we’re invariably talking America. Just ask those who have been working in hip-hop for the past twenty years, looking for the balance between a credible sound and their own identity. Yet while that has most definitely happened of late, it’s perhaps an even harder struggle for anyone who wants to pick up a guitar and bash out a punky, poppy tune and not automatically be compared to the big guns.
The Winter Passing, hailing from the midlands of Ireland, have come up with a neat way to avoid the problem. They’re so bloody fantastic that, while you listen to their debut album, it’s all that you really focus on – so fierce is their attack and so good the songs. The record freewheels from the very start, with both ‘Fever’ and ‘Penny Chains’ driven by a pure punk pop joy – a trick they repeat on tracks such as ‘Daisy’, ‘Bottle Green’ and the five minute title track (almost an epic in these circles).
Yet they can do dark too. Pick of these is ‘Fruits Of Gloom’, a stark number that explodes into life and also showcases their secret weapon. Given the overwhelmingly male nature of the scene, to hear a female voice (that of keyboard player Katie Flynn) is a welcome change – all the more so when combined with her brother Rob. Between the two, they add a dynamic and dramatic element to songs that already make great use of light and shade. There’s genuine emotion here amongst the anger and the passion, a winning combination in anyone’s book. Familiar enough to win them a US record deal and live profile, yet with a clear sense of self at the same time, The Winter Passing are striding across this particular musical tightrope with ease.