Tag Archives: BibleCodeSundays

Ronan MacManus: Strawberry Hill

September 14, 2010

Strawberry Hill is the debut solo release from Ronan MacManus, better know around these parts a vocalist of London-Irish Celtic rockers, The BibleCodeSundays. Strawberry Hill is very much coming from a different direction then anything the BibleCodes have done – Soulful and heartfelt acoustic rock, stripped down to barely guitar and piano accompanying Ronan’s rich vocals. The best points of reference would be Dempsey/Rice, David Grey and a certain (dare I say) Declan MacManus

The BibleCodeSundays: Boots or No Boots

Is this the album of the year? Big call to be making in August I know…but its gotta be a contender!!!
The BibleCodeSundays’ flute/accordion/fiddle sound is so warm it makes you want to curl up in front of it with a glass of red wine and a naked woman. Its like The Chieftains with a rocket up their arse or something…I don’t know but there’s something about listening to these guys that makes me think of a nice swallow of whiskey, just after the burning sensation has passed and you have that beautiful warm, soft buzz and a big smile on your face.

Boots or No Boots has come out barely a year after 2006’s stunner: Ghosts of Our Past, and I think its better. It has a few tracks with a bit more of an edge to them which pushes it up a few notches further in my ratings. The playing, arrangement and song-writing is once again superb in every way. The vocals are stand-out too, slightly under-stated, but rough enough to add the edge that this music needs.

The album opener, and one of the best tracks on it for sure, is Maybe It’s Because I’m an Irish Londoner. Celebrating the ex-pat feeling of pride and belonging, and this London/Irish combination has a lot to answer for. Shane MacGowan has been quoted numerous times as saying it was this that led to The Pogues sound – it needed Irish music to be taken abroad and re-invented in exile to take it to a new frontier. Irish Londoner is an up-tempo, gutsy song that you can’t but enjoy.

I’ve made it obvious already how much I like this album, so here is a quick run-through of some of the other real highlights:

Mayo Moon – a lost love / leaving song with a sweet, sad melody. Brings a tear to my eye each time I listen to it. A beautiful song in the traditional balladic style.

Lash in the USA – Drink’n’Roll at its finest: “I can’t see straight trying to play, we’re going on the lash in the USA…” Its just a dam fine, fast drinking song.

Cinderella Man – Heart-felt rendition of the story of Jim Braddock. A story better told in a few minutes of song than a few hours of on-screen Russell Crowe methinks, this track is a real stand-out. Lyrics are crisp, melody matches perfectly the Cinderella story, the struggle and rising from the ashes.

Paddy Devil – another drinking song, this one pointing out that little Lucifer who always suggests one more…this track is complete with evil devil laugh and an absolutely stand-out close with King of the Fairies harder and faster than I’ve ever heard it before – I tell ya, these guys know how to play!

Kids From the City of Nowhere – Building on the album opener, this song outlines the over-looked contribution of the Irish ex-pats to the building of London. Great merger of sad-lyrics with up-beat music including heart-soaring horns.

The Green & Red of Harrow – I just like this song…great tune. One of the edgier ones I mentioned earlier. Song is inspired by the County Mayo ex-pats living in Harrow.

Welcome to Cricklewood – a true celebration of multiculturalism! I loved this song from the first listen, a mid-tempo track with a happy-go-lucky feel, corny opening voice-over and a melodic chorus tinged with sadness. The horns combo-ed up with the whistle really does it for me in this one.

The album closes with a heart-wrenching, melancholic soliloquy over a piano backdrop. According to the band’s website, it was written and spoken by vocalist Ronan’s father Ross: a poem half written in the 50s, completed in the 90s. Stranger in My Land is an appropriate close to a beautiful, emotional, stand-up-and-rock-out album delivered in the way only a class-act Paddy Punk band can.

Simply put, The BibleCodeSundays are masters of their trade.

2007

Review: Alex Dean

BibleCodeSundays: Ghosts of Our Past

“Ghosts of Our Past” was one of my 3 most anticipated CD releases of this year, the others being the new Mahones CD (come on Finny, where’s my copy?) and The Hit The Bottle Boys upcoming CD release.

So, now that I’ve had a chance to give it a serious listen, I hear you ask does it live up to expectations. Absolutely, it’s even better then I could ever expected based on the mp3’s and myspace samples I’ve already heard.

So then, what does it sound like? An Irish/Trad./Rock crossover with a Punk edge and the pop/new wave sensibilities of say Elvis Costello. The songs lyrics are very much in the narrative tradition of the Irish ballad or even Springsteen or Steve Earle (who’s Dixieland is covered), with the focus on the downcast, the outcast and the outlaw. Think Elvis Costello meets The Pogues or more correctly Elvis Costello’s kid brother meets The Pogues – Ronan MacManus (vocals and guitars) is in fact the kid brother of Declan MacManus A.K.A. Elvis Costello and Andy Nolan (accordion) has played in Shane MacGowans Popes and Spider Stacys post-Pogues project.

Best song? All of ‘em. But, if you’re really going to twist me arm then it’s either, “Bang, Band. You’re Dead” or “Whitey” about Boston’s long missing villainous Irish gangster.

Very highly recommended.

2006