I just got, Back to Zero, the second album by London based rockers, Brand New Zeros, in the mail a couple of days back and after multiple spins on the turntable I’m loving it.
Brand New Zeros features BibleCodeSundays vocalist and songwriter, Ronan MacManus, and guitarist, Luke James Dolan. Now, despite the Irish names and Ronan’s tenure with BCS there is nothing Celtic here, just really great Rock’n’Roll. MacManus is a fine signer with a rich, raw voice, sometimes reminiscent of another up and coming Londoner, Declan McManus. While Dolan bring with him a big dirty bluesy guitar sound that seamlessly moves from classic rock’ n’ Americana to new wave to grunge.
Like I said, Back to Zero, is really great rock’n’roll and an album I suspect I’ll be listening to for a long time into the future.
Walk Like Kings the 4th full length original album from London-Irish band BibleCode Sundays is a highly polished affair and continues to prove that the BibleCodes are one of the most talented bands on the Celtic-rock planet. Ronan MacManus is an exceptionally talented singer and the rest of the band are no slouches either. While Walk Like Kings is more mellow and more mainstream friendly then the bands early albums they don’t lose that edge that made the band so attractive before. Walk Like Kings sees the band being joined by friends and family including the amazing Lorraine O’Reilly who duets with Russell Crowe (yeah him of Gladiator fame – he’s been a friend since hearing the BCSs tribute to Jim Braddock, The Cinderella Man). Brooklyn rappers Da Ded Rabbidz join the band on ‘Stand Up and Fight’.
Stand out tracks include the ska infused ‘Disorganized Crime’ (with help from members of The Specials and Bad Manners and ex London gangsters Noel ‘Razor’ Smith and Vincent Bradish for true criminal authenticity) and ‘Willie Redmond’s Volunteers’ a song Ronan pieced together from lyrics written by his late father Ross MacManus and featuring guest appearances by all of Ronan’s brothers including an up and coming young Declan MacManus who goes under the stage name of Elvis Costello (he may need to change that name before anyone takes him seriously though).
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
“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.