Dominic's Staff Pick: February 2, 2023

Greetings friends, I hope you are all doing okay out there and surviving. It’s been another tough week as far as music legends departing us is concerned. Tom Verlaine of Television and Barrett Strong of Motown leaving this world will leave a massive void, but their greatness and genius lives on in the music they created. That music will reverberate around the world for many, many years to come. If you haven’t read it, Patti Smith wrote a beautiful eulogy for Tom, which you can link to here. The best way we can remember them is to play their records. I’m sure a lot of copies of Marquee Moon got the needle dropped onto them this week, and Barrett Strong wrote so many great songs that almost any of the classic Temptations records, for instance, bare his stamp of class and genius. Just stick on Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World Is Today) for confirmation of that. Rest in power, gentlemen.

After last week’s newsletter and our review of some of our favorite releases of 2022, we have all been thinking about things we forgot, missed, should have mentioned etc. I’m glad Daniel wrote so well about The Cool Greenhouse because that is technically a 2022 release although we only just received our copies, as I would have certainly included it as one of my picks for the year. The CG has appeared on our best of lists before and rightfully so. This latest is one you’ll want to hear, so go check it out if you haven’t already.

Another record that I am really digging that had a 2022 release date, although didn’t appear here in physical form until the new year, is the debut by Philly’s The Ire titled What Dreams May Come. So, to put things right I would like to make that my staff pick for your consideration this week.

As the official old guy on staff here, I was a teenager in England during the 1980s and discovering bands and a scene of the sort that The Ire are clearly in love with. Namely Siouxsie & The Banshees, Bauhaus, Joy Division, The Cure and the Goth/Darkwave sounds that were to be found on labels like 4AD. I wasn’t a Goth myself, but have always appreciated the music from that scene, and back then in my small town if you were in any of the youth cults and an outsider, there weren’t many places to hang out and go where the normies weren’t in full strength and likely to give you trouble, so the punks and goths and rockabilly kids etc. tended to find themselves sharing the same pubs and late-night spots. Mostly we got along. Anyway, it was a great period for music, and I am thankful to the friends and DJs who turned me on to a lot of great stuff. Getting back to The Ire, from the moment I touched the needle down on the record and heard that full bottom end and crispy shimmering top in their sound, I felt a comfort and nostalgia for those times. They definitely nail that deathrock type of sound but without sounding like a covers band or a bunch of poseurs. Importantly, they add a good amount of American punk to the mix to give their sound some edge and most importantly can write a tune with decent lyrics. Kudos to the recording engineer and producer for a nice sounding recording.

Jeff and I were listening to the record in the store the other day and he was telling me who played what on the record. He knows them better than I do and from previous bands that members have been in. Regardless, everyone puts in a full shift in this band. Great bass playing, great drum sound, beautiful shimmering guitar tones contrasting with heavier riffs and terrific vocal performance. Plus, they look suitably cool and moody in their band photo. What more can you ask? I’ve played this record a few times now and haven’t tired of it yet, enjoying hearing it each time. I’ll be honest, a lot of the time I don’t find myself that impressed with new bands playing in an older style. There’s too much reenactment and not enough imagination, typically. The Ire seem to back up their knowledge of music from another era with a style and coolness that is their own and still contemporary. That’s good to see and hear. Nice job chaps.

My favorite tracks on the record are probably the first two full songs after the short instrumental introductory track, namely The Chariot and Crisis. Both songs ably show off the band in full flight and are worth your time and money investigating. Call it post-punk, goth rock or just good. Make sure though not to confuse them with another Ire from Pittsburgh, PA who are doing a whole other schtick though.

Okay, that’s all I have for you this week. Have a good one and we’ll see you next time.

Cheers - Dom

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