Friday, June 24, 2011

The Altered Hours/Windings

(caught live - Roisin Dubh, June 23rd)

I've heard the name The Altered Hours dropped a couple of times, but had no idea what to expect from their sound. A five-piece based in Cork, they deal in a psychedelic guitar sound that takes influence from bands like The Velvet Underground or The Brian Jonestown Massacre. They've got some great tunes that really stretch out with hypnotic grooves, and your attention tends to shift from instrument to instrument, or indeed on to the frontwoman whose vocals anchor their impressive sound. They've an EP on the way, Downstream next month. There's a couple of songs on their Soundcloud, but I don't think either of those truly does justice to their live sound; go see them if you get a chance - they should be announcing some more gigs soon.

Shimmer by The Altered Hours by alteredhours

Windings are reliably brilliant - now a full band, of course, although Steve Ryan (ex-Giveamanakick) is still very much the focal point, joking that he's wearing a hat to make himself look more intimidating. I was a fan of latest single 'Embury Greenway', but even more so after hearing it live; it's a fantastic slice of vintage-sounding alt-rock. Ryan makes no secret of his admiration for J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr, and the influence is clear in his sound, even if Windings largely tend to favour mellow, wistful tunesmithery over rocking out. He's even made it easy for lazy writers by actually writing a song about Mascis ('Old Like J'), although it's not so much about the axeman so much as it is about getting older. A constant highlight in their live sets, it's a perfectly understated, chiming number that has the feel of a classic that people will still be listening to in years to come.

Elsewhere, 'Poor In The Mouth' sounds even more fierce in the live setting, an adrenalised trasher that nods to his former band, while the slow-building 'These Horses Also Ran' starts with mid-tempo alt-rock vibes and steady harmonies before ending in a climactic wall-of-sound. An apt closer.

The impressiveness of The Altered Hours (upstairs) means we don't catch touted Limerick band Fox Jaw Bounty Hunters, but next time.

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