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An Afar To Remember
Northern rockers ASIWYFA are likely to win plenty of new fans courtesy of their excellent second album.
Colin Carberry, 14 Apr 2011
The whimper with which 2010 came to an end seemed to hang over into the early months of the New Year. However, if you were worried that this year was set to be something of a damp squib – concern yourself no longer. Over the next few weeks, a number of records are due that will ignite the kindling underneath 2011. And grim as the winter has been, spring and summer promise lots of fresh air and sunshine.
Let’s start with a revered bunch of hyperactive noiseniks. ASIWYFA have always attracted converts rather than fans. And I’ll hold my hands up and admit that, while I admired their first album (especially their attendant capacity for fevered self-promotion), much of the music I found slightly lukewarm. So, as they have graduated from Belfast toilet venues, to backstage shenanigans with John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl, I’ve been an interested bystander – wishing the lads well, but from a definite distance.
The first thing to say about Gangs, their follow-up, is that it is an incredibly shrewd record.
Like a canny political party moving from opposition into power, ASIWYFA are carefully protecting their rear flank while reaching out to a larger constituency. So, while the piledriving, guitar-based cavalry-charges they’re most closely associated with are all present and correct, there’s an added subtlety here – a playfulness in tone – that makes for a more rounded and outward-facing experience.
I’m not ready for a submersion baptism just yet, but I’ll happily pop by on a Sunday to hang out and listen to the tunes. Especially the brilliant opener, ‘BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION’, and the carnival drumming closer ‘Lifeproof’.
Mojo Fury come along with their chugging guitars and mid-Atlantic accents, and, initially, it sounds like a fairly dispiriting attempt by the band to pass themselves off as natives of Washington State. But don’t let this put you off. Visiting Hours Of A Travelling Circus is a sly and subtle record, which over time reveals its more overt moves to be, in fact, an outrageous (and risky) sleight of hand. The Lisburn band’s debut is actually all depth and texture: its front-of-stage shenanigans less interesting than the scenery and set-changes going on in the background. Harmonies go off in strange directions, strings and electronics swoop in and out in unexpected ways, choruses arrive out of the blue. It brims with ambition and potential. They deserve all the encouragement that, hopefully, is about to come their way.