April 21st sees Dublin-based alt-rock quintet Little Matador release their raucous debut, self-titled album, two years after their birth.
In their maiden year, Little Matador played alongside the likes of Queens Of The Stone Age, Jimmy Eat World and Nine Inch Nails. Helping them obliterate the conventional paths to success were a group of successful rock musicians and substantial music label, Fiction Records. Snow Patrols’ Nathan Connolly takes center stage as the bands creator, rock’n’roll enthusiast and main vocalist / guitarist. Connolly asked select friends to join the band on a trip to Dublin and “luckily they all agreed”. The line-up includes Dave Magee (LaFaro) on guitar, Troy Stewart (Tired Pony) who plays a multitude of instruments and the band is completed by bassist Gavin Fox (Turn and Idlewild) and the wonderfully named drummer Binzer Brennan (Bell X1).
As much as Two Door Cinema Club, Villagers, Delorentos and Kodaline have significantly boosted Irish music in the 21st century, the indie-pop movement has left a path wide-open for a gritty and aggressive rock band to come through, akin to the likes of Stiff Little Fingers, Thin Lizzy and Van Morrison. On first impressions of Little Matador’s debut LP, they are certainly on track.
The ten tracks on the album reflect the “very angry” and “very hurt” state of Connolly when he wrote the lyrics. The vocals are forced, direct and hard-hitting. ‘Chasing Cars‘ this is not. Tracks like the raucous and pacey ‘Liar Liar‘ and the thumping baseline of ‘Boom Boom‘ stretch Connolly’s power range to the limit and reflect the overall sound of the band.
In Connolly’s comfort zone of slowed-down melodies, tracks ‘Give & Take’ and the mysterious ‘Leaving Anyway‘ sound exquisite. But at times his voice can be drowned out by the huge, distorted guitar riffs and powerful drums (‘Reasons‘, ‘This Crooked Wood’).
Highlights include the epic, ‘Shatter’ with it’s sexy swagger and dirty, distorted guitar riffs. A firm favourite is ‘The Night‘, a confident and anthemic tune, with a nod to the early, psychedelic rock days of Kasabian.
Most of the albums tracks have been mentioned here, which just goes to show the potential longevity and success of their self-titled debut.
Overall, it’s indie-garage-rock sound may not be groundbreaking, and the vocals can sometimes become drowned-out, but the album and band are bursting with potential. Little Matador’s début may go on to represent the best of Irish releases for 2014. But more importantly, it is leading the way in the return of honest, dirty rock – in a league of it’s own. Little Matador is in the hands of some of the best in the industry, so definitely keep your eyes and tabs on these – they’re in it for the long-run.
Little Matador’s debut self-titled album is released on 21st April through Fiction Records.
The band are on a current UK tour, and have spots confirmed at Liverpool Sound City, The Great Escape (Brighton) and Sonisphere Festival later in the year. Little Matador have also scooped a huge slot on 28th June at The Royal Hospital, Dublin, in support of Biffy Clyro.