Remember bands like Saw Doctors, Whipping Boy and The Pale? Bands who played student unions, your cool old brother had their t-shirts, you stole his records and got into these fabled, legendary bands that didn’t sound anything like the brit/yank rock you’re listening to with rapt consumer attention. This is homegrown. You could meet these guys outside a pub and bum a smoke off them. That was the draw of these bands, unlike the bands in the posters on your wall, you could aspire to be like them. It gave you a sense of pride listening to these records, knowing they were irish guys just like you and me.
“Introducing” conjures up these images for me. A time before celtic tiger blandness in music, where musicians put their all into their albums for the sake of the music, not for the payday. It has our cultural identity stamped all over it. From songs influenced by the ghosts of showbands passed, tractors and our own knack of turning the humour magnifying glass onto ourselves. Ciaran is quite simply a cunning and comedic lyricist and songwriter. “I got a map to find my head, and found it up my ass” (June Madness), “I’m clocking in, i’m clocking out, i got a desk, a rubber stamp, a calculator for a brain, and half a gram to ease the pain” (This Congregation), are just some of Mr O’Neil’s fine bon mots. It’s an album you can’t help grinning along to. Not just because of the cheeky lines, but because of the welcome return of that that feeling of pride that someone out there is making music so totally unafraid of parodying itself, so quintessentially irish.
Check the video below for a guest appearance from Whipping Boy’s Fearghal McKee, and look for C O’Neil and friends, opening for folk rock bigwigs Big Country at the Olympia, Dublin.