I don't want us to come across as a bunch of ungrateful coves, but we get sent a fair amount of free stuff here, and to be honest most of it is crap! Bands who've clearly never read our Blogs and who we would NEVER listen to, never mind write about in hundred years, send us all kind of demos and CDs; whilst lazy A&R men who're looking for some quick, cheap publicity for some band or other who sound like Deacon Blue or Jessie J, write to us in the vain hope we'll feature their artists.
The thing is....we do this in our spare time! We are not professional journalists, nor do we sit around all day listening to music for a living, then writing about it. We have to fit it all in to the gaps in our real lives complete with jobs, families and the usual guff.
The reason I mention it at all is that, because of all this, sometimes good stuff slips us by almost unnoticed....which is almost what happened with Land Lovers!
It was in that grey-in-every-sense period just after the Festive season that a song began to worm it's way deep into my psyche. "When Nana asked The Pocket Orchestra to come and play for her...."; an instant hook of an opening line over a musical backdrop that suggested Tindersticks-in-the-sun(and without the red wine and downers). It had sneaked out of my MP3 player unannounced and I had to go searching through my tracks to find out what it was. The clue was in the title; 'The Pocket Orchestra's Death Song'. It had featured on an album called 'Confidants' which had been sent to us by bassist Shane Murphy. The band in question were Land Lovers who hail from Dublin and who further comprise of Padraig Cooney who supplies the lyrics and lead vocals and plays guitar and some keyboards, Ciaran Canavan who also plays guitar and keyboards, Brian Lynch who drums, and Cormac Hughes who plays keyboards and glockenspiel. All of the band supply additional vocals and sound effects.
Land Lovers manage that unique musical trait of taking a big sound and making it intimate; like the aforementioned Tindersticks or Lambchop, they manage to take what sounds like a whole orchestra of instruments and reduce it to a bar band or garage band roll, without losing any of it's drama or cadence. I'm guessing the phrase 'pocket orchestra' is not used ironically!
What I also find intriguing about Land Lovers is that their lyrics aren't just the usual modernist Rock piffle, a slew of corny metaphorical images and phrases from the tired old lexicon of Pop that offer neither sense nor insight. No, Padraig Cooney actually takes time to tell stories within his lyrics, something that really only the likes of Nick Cave or Tom Waits still do these days. Padraig also adopts the persona of various characters within his lyrics which give the songs extra depth and texture. I'm also reminded of Howard Devoto in both Padraig's words and delivery, as well as hints of Eugene McGuiness and Ron Sexsmith(both of whom are also expert storytellers). And tonally, and this may be wandering into the arena of the daft a little, but I get an overall feel of if the Swell Maps had been produced by George Martin, or if The McTells could have afforded a decent studio. And producer. And instruments(Griff: Yes, daft is certainly the word I would use!!)
And as if all their own fine music wasn't enough to make you love them, there is also the fact that, along with other Dublin based bands Yeh Deadlies and Groom, Land Lovers are also at the center of the Popical Island Collective; basically a set up of like minded bands and artists who share Land Lovers view of slightly skewiff Pop and Folk based Indie music. I urge you to check out the Popical Island website and indulge yourself in some new musical bubble bath.
With the lame-brained Indie-rock that clogs the arteries of modern culture apparently on the wane(Hurrah!!), it's good to know that sublime, dreamsoaked pure Indie Pop is still being created out there, and Land Lovers and the Popical Island collective is a very fine place to find yourself castaway.
Land Lovers album 'Confidants' can be purchased or streamed from their Bandcamp page
And there are some free dowloads of other Popical Island artists at their Soundcloud page