by / October 9th, 2012 /

HWCH ’12 – State’s top 25

Last weekend saw the tenth anniversary of Hard Working Class Heroes, the annual showcase of new (and not so new) Irish talent. Once again it saw the streets of Temple Bar mix their regular clientele with an influx of gig goers and musicians in search of some hidden gems. Here’s State’s pick of the acts on offer…

Come On Live Long – Workman’s Club, Friday

It was exactly a year ago that we first made the acquaintance of Come On Live Long, alongside a smattering of early doors punters across the river at the Grand Social. A year – and a nationwide tour with We Cut Corners amongst other gigs – later there are far more in the know, despite a clash with Le Galaxie’s party closing open air slot. The progress they’ve made in the past twelve months is immediately clear. Their sound has beefed up no end and the disparate elements of their multi-instrument approach sit together perfectly. They’ll need to push on at a similar pace to really challenge but, based on what we’ve seen so far, that should be a breeze.(PU)

Conor Mason – Grand Social

With three albums under his belt, Mason still remains an unfamiliar name to most. Regardless, the Derry man has found his space on the musical landscape, not dissimilar to that occupied by the likes of Matthew Jay or Elliott Smith. Mason’s set, like his songs, flows gently by, amid a sea of soft lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and shrouded in melancholy. Mason and his music really deserve more attention than they are currently receiving. (BG)

Croupier – Meeting House Square, Friday

Quite where Croupier get their sound from is hard to tell. There is definitely drums, vocals, guitars, etc., but how they find form in combing them in the way they do is nothing short of wondrous. There are guitar chops everywhere but it sounds absolutely brilliant with this form of delivery. Piecemeal middle-eights and pre-choruses tied together with all sorts of rhythms and call-and-response chants have rarely sounded so impressive from such a young band. Croupier sound unlike anything on the Irish music scene at present and their reward for their bravery was a prime slot at this year’s festival. Their earnest and impassioned vocals add to a lovely hodgepodge of what can only be described as song –parts, and the extended instrumental sections certainly bring images of ASIWYFA to mind but originality is still the keystone of Croupier’s appeal. A great showing from an up and coming band that unless you see live, you probably won’t fully appreciate. (SD)

Dogs – Workman’s Club, Thursday

Gaps in schedules can be a blessing in disguise, particularly at Hard Working Class Heroes. Twenty minutes to kill post-Low Sea in Meeting House Square meant a venture to the Workman’s Club earlier than planned, to get out of the cold grab a good vantage spot for the CMJ-bound Bouts. What we stumbled upon was the tail-end of a set from an unfamiliar act, which was instantly impressive. Dogs are a four-piece from Dublin, all of whom were involved in various other projects before they decided to join forces in the summer of 2011 under the common vision for abandoning indie backgrounds to instead focus on making electronic music. The ethos of the band is to make music that is free to download, and place emphasis on making their live shows energetic and powerful. No problems there – besides one member presiding over beats, the other three brandish guitars, and vocals are live and emphatically so. It’s a high-octane performance, in spite of the small confines of the Workmans Club stage, and one which made us eager to check out their recordings. (EB)

Dylan Tighe – The Mercantile, Friday

By far one of the most intriguing performers at this year’s festival, Tighe performs an absolutely show-stopping set to a packed and somewhat unguarded audience. His soul-searching lyrics and voice combine to staggering effect and he delivers one of the performances of the weekend when clearly very few knew what to expect. As the pre-gig din loses its viscosity Tighe’s voice is as hushed as it is strong and before long the place is enthralled by him. His running musical theme is mental illness and rather than it become something best examined as shorn memories, Tighe is examining it through music and generates atmosphere with minimal effort. As such, his lyrics are sometimes unsettling but never anything less than remarkable. As far as comparisons go, a stripped back and darker Edwin Collins would be a start, likewise Richard Hawley, but Dylan Tighe should be heard and experienced with an open mind because based on this, the element of surprise is one of his best weapons. (SD)

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  • Slow Skies are my new favourite band 🙂

  • Jimbo

    Really didn’t think Gavin James was up to much, so makes me question all the 25 acts I didn’t see, but at least you didn’t include Le Galaxie, finally got a chance to see them and see what all the hype is about. It’s just that, hype!