Over it’s five year history A Certain Three has unearthed plenty of gems, rough and hidden alike. This year we have Manchester band Patterns, The Altered Hours and erstwhile Sligo native Myles Manley. The Workmans Club hosted this years showcase and true to form the event creates enough optimism in diverse Irish music to repell any notions of homogeny. Furthermore, as long as we have a promoter this dedicated to new music and clearly as outward looking as Word of Mouth we may rest easily.
First up were Patterns, a four piece who’s electronic drone is neatly interwoven with guitars and whip-smart use of keys. It could easily be argued that it’s the other way around, guitars interspersed with samples, but either way it works and the effect is the same. Engaging and directly compelling music in the vein of Editors or Wild Beasts. Deerhunter, even. They describe thier sound as “that ineffable moment between being awake and asleep” and they’re absolutley right. The vocals are almost detached from the music; dream-like and other worldly. That is not to suggest that they are unclear, they take pride of place above the music as if providing further instrumentation. But there is enough treatment to make them slightly surreal and act as a buffer between the digital and analogue sounds. This was an assured and solid performance and surely there is more to come from them.
Next were the experimental psych-rockers The Altered Hours. Hailing from Cork, this is a band with a reputation for left-of-centre performaces and suffice to say it is perfectly justified. They are alternative incarnate and sound amazing from the moment they start to the last note. It is not without good reason that Anton Newcombe signed them to his A Records label, Newcombe himself an evergreen proponent of audible oddity. In fact, The Altered Hours resemble Brian Jonestown Massacre in more than a few ways but this isn’t a criticism, their adherance to a stylistic approach to making music, the nucleus of any resemblance to BJM, gives them a simlar level of nonchalance about their songs; even if they’re delivered with enough menace and drive to pin you down. They play such tight and focused music and provide such aesthetic manna that the room disappears. As far as State.ie’s reccommendations go, this one is whole hearted.
Finally we have a darling of the literary rock circuit, Myles Manley. Manley, for those not yet versed, is kind of like a rockabilly David Bowie. Like if Can and Dion & The Belmonts had a baby. His watery vocals are wider than the room and his voice never sounds any deeper than a cup of tea. But this guy can sing and deliver fast paced kitchen-sink missives like nobody’s business. When he slows down his set he sounds just as impressive which pointedly showcases his versatility. His weird, laterally mumbled versitility. Manley is a true anomaly in Irish music and we should be proud of him, tonight was a perfect synthesis of his creativity. Bleached blonde floppy hair, billowing red shirt and his three-piece backing band provide the backdrop for his surreal inspections of life. But it’s the tunes which speak loudest and last longest. See him before he returns to his home planet.