2014 has so far been a good year for new Irish music. Breakthrough acts spanning genres and showcasing a real diversity, packed with an energy and enthusiasm born of musical influence from around the globe.
From a diverse pool of talent the unique emerge and shine-and right now Ireland’s musical talent pool is every bit as diverse as it is deep.
Broken Vice are an indie four-piece who are right up my street.
There’s an unmistakable bond between the four Navan men-a chemistry which shines through their music, encapsulated within their debut EP, Implements.
It isn’t always easy to pinpoint a source of inspiration when we hear a group for the first time, and Implements is no different. But when new music is somewhat reminiscent of a sound from the not-too-distant past, yet distinctive enough so as to hold its own clear identity it can be incredibly refreshing. And for me, Broken Vice manage this balancing act very well.
Implements is full to the brim with that wonderful energy which heralded what was a relatively new feeling sometime between the mid-to-late ’90s. It carries that almost dreamy, summer-like vibe which we find in the sub-genre of soft rock infused with a new, youthful freshness.
Seldom will a five track EP leave you as curious through its effortless, thought-provoking delivery from start to end.
Opening track, S.T.O.S has that rather funky,up-tempo touch of summer about it. It’s bright and energetic, perfectly delivered by Eoghan McGuiness, who’s tone will leave you scratching your head as to where you’ve encountered this subtily familiar style previously. This voice with these guitar riffs are a winning combination. Add to this the talent of Matt Winston on drums, who’s march-like beat pulses throughout, and the formula is complete.
Second track Preachers will have you tapping along. It carries that same guitar sound which is now becoming the signature of Broken Vice, and it’s not afraid to drop the tempo before picking it up again and driving on. I happened to be sitting in the garden whilst listening; The sun beaming down, birds singing-any summer cliché you can think of. Perfect.
Third track Curro-my eureka moment as it dawned on me what that hint of familiarity within McGuiness’ vocal was…Phew!
With a drum beat carrying a sound which is by now distinctive and the vocal delivery once again perfect in tone, this track just seems to ooze the warmth of Ocean Colour Scene to me. And by the same token I would have no problem comparing the voice of Eoghan McGuiness to that of a young Simon Fowler. Now, that may seem like high praise indeed, especially considering the fact that we are dealing with a debut EP here, so let me sum it up like this; To me, if a track has the power to remind you of something special which may have gone a generation or two before, why not draw comparisons? It doesn’t mean that a track or record sounds like something else, simply that it reminds us as listeners of a familiar feeling which we’ve previously enjoyed, so why not enjoy it again? With that in mind, this track would not be out of place nestled within an album such as One From The Modern. It has that subtle yet exceedingly nice hint of Profit In Peace about it.
By the time stand out track Desert Aisle kicks in I’m really enjoying the EP. This song has a slower, dreamier intro. It doesn’t need to be any more intense because that voice is packed with soul. It carries an almost repressed energy, powerful yet moving and now familiar. It remains upbeat yet captivating, before ending on the same note on which it began.
And so on to Pasteurisation (Block C live session). Here we find a return to that previous tempo and energy. Once again packed with that warmth of familiarity, it flows perfectly.
Implements carries that essence of what we may call ‘real indie’ and is captivating from start to end. It will genuinely leave you wondering what we may come to expect from the Navan men. But fear not! For in true Live And Die In Music style, we managed to track down Broken Vice to find out.
Here’s our interview in full.
LADIM – So far it’s been a good year for breakthrough Irish music. There seems to be a refreshing diversity when it comes to emerging groups. What is it that makes Broken Vice distinctive among other Irish acts?
BV – I guess we just write and compose what comes out and let how we are in the moment dictate the song writing, so we try not to categorize ourselves into a certain style. It’s when a song comes together and we sense a certain vibe or feel that our producers ears kick in and we can guide a song or sound in a certain direction, which is how we went about making our EP.
LADIM – In our review I’ve likened your sound to the same kind of warmth as that of groups such as Ocean Colour Scene. Is that a fair comparison, and from where do you take inspiration?
BV – We wouldn’t place OCS in our repertoire of influences but we can see where the influence can be heard. As mentioned previously, we don’t take direct influence from any acts but maybe subconsciously or in a production or technical sense bands such as Radiohead, Grizzly Bear, Bombay Bicycle Club and Fleet Foxes to name but a small few, would be big influences for us.
LADIM – You guys are developing quite a following. How have you been received when on the road?
BV – Very well, which we are delighted about! We played The Academy last summer as part of The Block C festival, to get the chance to play there we recorded a live video in Block C studios which had to reach a certain number of views on YouTube for us to win a slot, so we got loads of really positive feedback on and through the video. After the EP was released it somehow reached a few non-national blogs and magazines and we got a few great reviews which was really good to find out.
LADIM – Now that you’ve developed a style that is distinctive, is your writing geared towards that sound, or is your sound a consequence of your writing style?
BV – We never intentionally set out to make a track like our last but there is a certain element and aesthetic to how we write. The songs usually start with a guitar line or riff, then the rhythm sections will work together and the song will almost come together like a jigsaw. From there it’s down to the nitty gritty bits which are mostly down to experimenting or trying out new things.
LADIM – Do you see a difference in audience reaction and energy as you travel the country?
BV – Definitely in the sense of how they react to certain songs, but it all depends on how you perform really. The more you put into the performance the better the crowd will react and feel a part of the experience, be it playing to ten people or a hundred people.
LADIM – We’ve spoken about how unique your sound is at the moment. How much of an influence do you feel you may have on future Irish acts?
BV- I guess the unique sound you mentioned would be the main influence. We are big fans of strong dynamics and doing small things slightly different, mostly technicalities in the music. Sonically, the various world music influences and soundscapes or atmospheres we like to create in our music stands out and adds a lot of character to the music and writing it, which many acts may find appealing.
LADIM – And finally guys, what does the future hold for Broken Vice?
BV – At the moment it’s just to keep writing new material, hopefully start recording some new tracks this summer and build up a bigger and better catalogue for some gigs.