It's happened again ... Once more I start out intending to write a simple album review and with a little back-catalogue research find myself putting together a full band profile instead ... In this case Ireland's The Holy Roman Army.
Formed around the nucleus of siblings Chris and Laura Coffey, and hailing from County Carlow, the band first released their debut LP How The Light Gets In on their homegrown 'Collapsed Adult' label back in 2009. This is an album that decidedly deserves a good listen, and as debuts go, one that keeps the listener both interested and frequently pleasantly surprised. You think you know "Ah yeah, this is gonna be a 'XYZ' kind of track", followed by... "No, wait, OK, maybe not .. Wasn't expecting that, Nice!". Take for example He's Not Responding; put me in mind of Belly's Low Red Moon, then drops some serious Trip-Hop back-lined beats before adding in hints of Steve Mason/Beta Band. Thoughout however, their own sound is there, distinctive.
This is what really impresses me about The Holy Roman Army - It's almost as if the Indie and Dance 'revolutions' of the early 90s had a hybrid offspring and now the child has finally come of age and reached a perfectly blended maturity. I can't help but highlight this with a video from an instore performance of the Pixies' Wave Of Mutilation at Dublin's Road Records.
The above track comes from the band's next release - A 5-track EP of covers entitled Desecrations which also includes versions of numbers by Rollerskate Skinny, Bon Iver, Peter Broderick and Pavement. Desecrations is available as a free download via bandcamp - see links below.
This brings me on to the 'mini-album' Lazerians which was the initial purpose of my review. Released last month Lazerians clocks in at eight tracks and just under half an hour's playback time - so somewhere between an EP and a full album.
As a whole, Lazerians takes the themes and styles of the previous releases and manages to improve on them, not only bringing new beats (many tracks on here are eminently danceable), but original instrumentations are woven in, such as well-placed punches of brass and more jazzy hooks. Ordinarily you would think that having so many different aspects of sounds to blend together, the end result would be a gawd-awful mess, but in the case of the tracks here - not at all. The tunes keep on doing things you really don't expect and do so with complete success.
One stand-out track from the release is Electricity, a infectious foot-tapper and head-nodder of a tune (with the brilliant drums provided by Dennis Cassidy) that puts me in mind of Dubstar at their finest. Honestly, this needs to be a single ASAP ... ! Backed with a couple of in-house remixes I'm sure it would get a proverbial buttload of radioplay.
You may have guessed by now that I really, really, like what The Holy Roman Army are doing with their music - For me it's a wonderfully accomplished amalgam of all my favourite styles, from Indie, Trip-Hop, Dance, Shoegaze, Acid-Jazz to others beyond mention. All the stuff I grew up on essentially, given a wicked, more modern slant. Love it. Head on over to Bandcamp and buy their stuff! All 3 LPs/EPs are available there and hopefully in the new year there'll be a promised second full-length album released and perhaps a tour too.