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This Weekend I’ll Mostly Be Listening to…Rollerskate Skinny, Shoulder Voices June 8, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in This Weekend I'll Mostly Be Listening to....
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Here’s an Irish group from the early to mid-1990s, Rollerskate Skinny, famous, or infamous, for having for a time a Shields (yes, brother of one K. Shields) as part of the line up. But to reduce them to that fact alone would be to do a serious disservice to a group that locked neatly into a musical discourse which seemed of a piece with musical developments much further afield than this island – and a fair bit more experimental than most of their contemporaries in Ireland or outside it.

I recall reading, I think in Melody Maker, a scathing review of one of their albums – I’m guessing the first – which suggested that they were mere Boo Radley copyists. I kind of see how one could see them sharing – to a very limited extent – a similar approach in some areas, but the thrust of the two groups was so starkly different (not to mention the BR’s unfortunate commercial turn only a few years later), and it would be easier to see a similarity with Mercury Rev where the general stop start loud soft shifting sheets of sound would be much much more apposite – of which there’s an indirect link after their dissolution. There’s also the shade of Sonic Youth lurking not too far in the background. And the Virgin Prunes. But hey, it’s all good.

Then there’s moments, like the metallic riffing which underpins parts of “Violence to Violence” (albeit if I understand it correctly the subject of the song appears to indicate why that might be an appropriate reference point), which belong to them and them alone.

And for all the media focus on the MBV connection there’s remarkably little evidence of that influence here – it’s not entirely missing, the ascending guitar notes on “So Far Down Up to Heaven” are mid-period MBV, but they’re added as grace notes. In any case Shield’s tenure was short lived enough, leaving before their final album Horsedrawn Wishes which is almost as good. There is apparently an unreleased third album out there in the ether.

Small fact: I kind of know the person who painted the cover image, but never got around to asking what, if anything, it means. That’s one for the to do list.

I saw them once live, in the Rock Garden in Temple Bar in the Shoulder Voices incarnation, and remember being blown away by “Bow Hitch Hiker” and it’s sibilant ‘ssss’ which anchors the chorus… They were loud, very very loud indeed. But they were also somehow very focused with their seemingly chaotic songs managing to remain much more concise than one would have expected. And much more melodic, there are some killer hooks and choruses squirrelled away in their two albums (“Ages” exemplifies this perfectly). Perhaps not surprisingly they appeared to be having a blast that night. A good way to remember a genuinely great Irish band.

Miss Leader

Bow Hitch Hiker

Violent to Violent

Bella

Ages

So Far Down Up to Heaven

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1. thedj4461 - June 8, 2013

Reblogged this on The View from The DJ booth .

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