Music from Dublin - Now there's something that makes me stand up and take notice when the post arrives. One of these days I'm
going to get over there and see if it lives up to all the hype, but there's something about the idea of a music bar or a club
on every corner that grabs me by the throat and virtually drags me across the water!
On this occasion I'm taking a look at "Spark", the 4 track EP from Dublin based artist Barry O'Brien. Not many
tracks to go on here, but the biography enclosed with the EP promises an artist that has performed in clubs around the
city and actually put his hand into his own pocket to buy a 4 track recorder in order to assemble a CD of demos. An artist
who takes the time and effort to get himself noticed always scores points with me - too many would be great musicians these
days honestly think that you can just sit in bed waiting for a call from a record company!
First, let me get my main criticism of this EP out of the way. On a couple of the tracks, most noticeably "Cut me out",
the vocals are swamped by the music. In a live venue, this doesn't often matter as the audience gets into the atmosphere of
the place and loud music is normally the way to go, but a CD creates a totally different atmosphere and the music must never
swamp the artists voice. A lot of bands complain that they don't sound the same on CD, and most would agree that a live
performance is always much better, and unfortunately a lot of bands think this is an indication that they should crank
the music up on their CDs to recreate the sound of a live venue. Believe me, it doesn't work!
Having said all that, there is enough on this CD to convince me that Barry O'Brien would be a formidable presence in front
of a live audience. The band is getting good reviews from all that have heard them, and that leads me to believe that
the forthcoming debut album will go well. With Aiden O'Grady on drums and percussion and Keith Farrell on Bass and backing vocals, the CD gives
the impression that this is a band to be reckoned with. O'Brian took up guitar when he was 12, and played with various
bands before going through music college, so this is an artist who takes himself seriously enough to make an effort to
improve, and he therefore has a good future in front of him.
There are a number of obvious influences in this first CD. Rock definitely comes into the picture, but by his own
admission the music is a very soulful blend of influences and each track is heavily swayed by a different style. "Cut me
out" is essentially a pop/rock mix, "The strangest game" is far more rock influenced with a lot of guitar work and catchy
riffs, and "Sisters in the sky" throws a spanner in the works by going for the acoustic ballad. I wasn't sure what to expect
when I first put the CD into the player, but I have to admit that my first impressions were good and Barry O'Brian's sound
has grown on me the more I've listened to it. I particularly like the
last track, "Under the Waves" which seems rather more mainstream than the others and has been listened to on my
CD player far more than is probably healthy!
I'm not sure how to categorise this EP due to it's many influences, but I think it's safe to say that this is a CD
which should encourage you to go and see the band live to get the full impact of the music. Barry O'Brian doesn't say
whether he has any MP3s available on the web for new fans to listen to, but the EP can be purchased from CDBaby.