It is difficult to walk around Dublin these days and not find a live band in some pub or another banging out the same sounding alternative rock and not thinking to yourself that you’ve heard this all before. Ireland has been rehashing the same old, same old musical trite for years with varying musical success and a lot of failures. Its music scene is very circular in nature and doesn’t react kindly to change. In fact, in some cases, it doesn’t know how to react to ‘new‘ sounding bands, with new musical ideas.
Makings (Rick Burn, Mr Reynolds, Barry Shock, and Raul Marcos) are one of those ‘new’ bands that are changing the perceptions of Irish music, not only on the live scene, but with the songwriting and soundscapes that the band are creating in the studio. With wide musical influences coursing through every single track, the band have a canny knack of sounding relevant — but a new relevant. Having recently finished up recording their debut album Cognition, and then managing to get one of the top producers in England, Chris Potter (who has previously worked with The Verve, Blur, and The Rolling Stones) to pick over the production details, the band have been working tirelessly on the live circuit, perfecting their sound to hopefully catapult themselves skyward and breathe new life into the Irish music scene and its fans.
On your first listen to the Dublin-based four piece’s debut you can hear what they’re trying to achieve. It is packed full of influences and, yes, it shows off the band’s diversity in songwriting and song structure, but it also shows that these guys actually listen to their musical influences, taking on board what is needed to connect all of said influences together to make something interestingly ‘new’ sounding. A very difficult thing to do these days. I can hear 70’s Bowie and T-Rex, in all their glam rock finery, 80’s Depeche Mode, with their electronic drums and synths, and there’s 90’s Creation Records experimental layered guitar sounds in there, with new millennium Primal Scream pulsing through its veins! There is also a nod to the modern-day dance scene, with the band’s brilliant use of sequencers and samplers. The use of vocal harmonies, both in their live sets and in the studio, are second to none. Every member of the band sings on this album! Put simply, Cognition has something for every single music fan, but it stands outside the box on its own merits, too. Very few bands in the modern Irish scene can have that said about them. Something great and ‘new’ in my opinion.
The first track on Cognition is “iClone.” Opening with a distinct, infectious synth pattern, this track is the bedrock of the album and sets Makings’ electro-rock stall up with an assault on your senses from the off. The vocal arrangements on this album are amazing — lead vocalist Rick Burn’s vocal range is immense (you can hear why his vocal style has been compared to Mike Patton, the brilliant lead singer from Faith No More) — but it’s the band’s clever use of sequencers and keyboards, just sitting under the mix, that catch this listener’s ear. This is a welcome theme running all the way through Cognition, and should hold the band in good stead going forward. It’s very different to what’s going on in Ireland at the minute. It’s ‘new’ — ingenious even? But this type of sound only works when you have accomplished musicians to carry the production, either live or in a studio setting, and Makings have them in spades. From drums to guitars, bass and keys, every section of the band knows exactly what they are doing at any given time and are working hard. That’s the difference.
You can pick any one of the tracks on this album and not find a flaw. Maybe that’s down to the production work of Chris Potter, or maybe it’s down to the band, but it works for me. I love the distinctive influential sounds that you can pick out of each track. For example, my favourite track on the album is “Heart Attack,” a well-written and well-executed electro-rock tune that I can instantly relate to. I can hear Depeche Mode and early acid house-style sequencing, albeit slowed down, all over it. Likewise on the band’s latest single “Dig,” where, again, the band’s clever use of electronic instrumentation, combined with a steady drumbeat, pulsing bass, charging guitars, and Rick Burn’s distinctive vocal style coming to the fore, take the listener by the scruff of the neck, forcing you to listen.
In fact, you can listen to them all and I can guarantee that you to will hear different influences and styles from different eras screaming back at you. It’s exciting to hear an Irish rock band doing something this different and not pigeonholing themselves in the ever cyclical nature of Ireland’s music scene. Makings and Cognition are a completely new animal for the Irish music-buying public to get their teeth into, and I for one hope that they do. I hope they support a band like this because it will allow Makings to soar to the heights that I know they can go and I wish them well in their travels.
DEL CHANEY is a self-confessed music freak and is never far away from a turntable. He divides his time between fronting popular electronic band Analogue Wave and uncovering and actively promoting artists from all over the globe in the shoegaze, dream pop, noise-rock, & post-rock genres with The Primal Music Blog and The Primal Radio Show. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland, Del is a keen vinyl collector, tattoo fan, & all round good guy.