We at State like to think we have our finger on the pulse Irish music wise, so when a fifteen track compilation of home grown acts pitches up and we’ve never heard of 99% of them we couldn’t help but be curious. Popical Island #1 makes the recent New Breed collection look like a gathering of top pop stars. If, like us, the likes of Lie Ins, Squarehead, Land Lovers, Yeh Deadlies and Captain Trid have been previously uncharted waters fear not, for this is flipping marvellous.
The record has a distinct collective feeling to it. Many of the bands share members and indeed a similar sound – we’re very much in lo-fi territory here. Yet if that conjures up images of earnest young folk who can’t sing or play avian don’t worry. Sure some of these songs are a touch rough around the edges but all approach their task with an absolute passion and unmistakable joy. Those who have quite rightly been bemoaning the lack of decent homegrown pop music may find the answer in this most unlikely of sources.
Of the bands we know, So Cow provide the rattling opener ‘Exclusive Express Bus Service Blues’ and Groom are way better than we remember them. The real delights come from those previously unknown. Feed The Bears recall the skewed pop delight of The Chalets, Jonny Fun & The Hesitations resuurect the days of C86 far better than The Drums and it’s impossible not to fall in love with a song called ‘Teenage Pricks (Up Yours Forever) by the Yeh Deadlies. Best of all is ‘Sketch!’ by Tieranniesaur, which combines New York indie funky cool with Dublin street wit.
The tragedy in all this is that, if our more potentially mainstream bands are having trouble breaking through the glass ceiling, what chance this ramshackle bunch? There are certainly songs on here that would light up any day. Yet while the masses may not get to hear them, these are bands that could mean an awful lot to a few as opposed to a little to many and, given the nature of things these days, that could spread far beyond these shores.