After the relentless rain of the Christmas season, there’s a welcome pause in the downpour this weekend. It seems that everyone is taking advantage of the unseasonably mild January evening and the city centre is teeming. Whelan's is packed to the gills for the double bill of garage rockers, Slouch and the awkward pop of Land Lovers.
Slouch come on at midnight and the three piece waste no time. They set straight about laying down a stoner groove. They’re all shaggy hair, beards, and even a backwards baseball cap. Kev Shannon and Malachy Burke are a great rhythm section. The bass propels the songs into fearsome grooves while Conor Wilson casually churns out some of the best sludgy riffing this side of Queens Of The Stone Age, if that band decided to play in the style of The Pixies.
Slouch are musically excellent, and rock hard but in a laid back fashion. The wonderful ‘King Crab Has A Hold Of The Ocean’ sets the tone for the set with it’s fuzzed out ‘Lady Madonna’ riff. It’s one of five tracks from last year’s Feminine Elbows EP which set the tone of their set but the newer material takes their desert rock sound further. It’s all very understated and there’s almost zero interaction with the audience. When these guys get comfortable on stage they will be an exciting and very different prospect.
Slouch play for about 40 minutes and we would have happily had them for 40 more. They are let down by the sound mix. The instrumental parts are exceptional but the vocals are so high in the mix that it’s painful to listen to. Land Lovers suffer the same issue for most of their set and it’s only in the last few songs that the lyrics are properly discernible.
Dublin based Land Lovers have a new album coming out in May. The five piece, founders of the Popical Island collective, have it in the can already and are playing songs from it tonight. They are an experienced band and are confident in themselves and in the new material. They are a sharp and welcome contrast to Slouch’s dirty rock with their pop vibe that is more Southern California than January in Dublin. Tapping toes replace the banging heads in the room.
Backing vocals come from all members of the band and they are a tight unit. The line up has been in continual flux around main man Padraig Cooney since first forming in 2006 but the quality of musicianship on show has not diminished. “Let's rock ...at a medium pace” he announces after introducing the band. Land Lovers are magpie songwriters drawing from Ray Davies, Pavement, and Divine Comedy, as well as ‘60s pop, ‘90s alt folk, and lo-fi indie.
It's a comfortable hour for a band with almost three albums (and a couple of EPs) in their catalogue so we get a greatest hits set to complement the new songs. Having been lulled into a peaceful reverie by the closing act, it is jarring to return to the claustrophobic throng on Wexford Street.