C. O'Neill + Co. release their debut at the end of the month, an album inspired by "the people, the landscape, the troubles, the sense of community or lack thereof" encountered by the band's leader - Ciarán O'Neill - on the Fermanagh/Cavan border. "Recorded in an old school house in Roscommon", Introducing C. O'Neill & Co., does indeed have some lows but more than make up for those with some quite a number of highs including the incredibly aptly titled 'Country Tune' which introduces us to both Ciaran's barritone and biting words which chug along nicely on top of a country shuffle.
'Take Me Over Machine' is the record's "pop tune" and nicely summarises the group : simple strong structures with catchy get-to-the-point choruses, cutting lyrics, supported by a folk/country-loving - bordering on traditional at times - band comprised of friends from around Cavan, all executed with a cheeky glint in the corner of Ciarán's ever watchful eye. The track can be downloaded for free below.
'I Fall In' and 'You Lived In My Life' both display a more sombre, tender side to C. O'Neill & Co. with the intro to the latter echoing the gloomy-yet-vulnerable vocals of a certain Mr. Cave.
As stated earlier there are low points such as 'Half Man Half Tractor' which feels a little bit too much like a novelty song for my liking and I cannot seem to make it all the way through 'Please Take Me There' which sounds like an old-fashioned demo.
Fearghal Mckee has been raving about the band for quite a while now so it is fitting the Whipping Boy frontman should lead us out on album closer 'Look Da No Hands', verbalising lyrics which could have been written by the original hellraiser himself :
"I won't be lied to by a government that only looks after its pals
I'm gonna plough my own field, grow my own mind."
All in all Introducing C. O'Neill & Co.'s strength lies in its honesty, simplicity and DIY roots coupled with O'Neill's words which can be as witty as they are sharp.
- Introducing C. O'Neill & Co. is set for release on January 27th
- 'Look Da No Hands' will be released as a single on January 20th