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Snub - Being with, then... (Ochre Records)

I saw Dublin band Snub a couple of years ago in Smithfield's Cobblestone Bar and, while they showed potential, their mix of styles did seem a bit patchy and, at their best, they were a bit of a pale reflection of Kla. This four track release shows they've done a lot of work on their sound and are on the way to becoming a brilliantly eclectic Irish act and probably a massive draw live. Kicking off with a live version of the gypsy cabaret style 'The Carnival', they put distance between themselves and Kla; this is down and dirty stuff in the vein of Jacques Brel. While it is somewhat similar to the stuff the Black Romantics did on their first album (Ginger O'Keefe of the Romantics is now offering his considerable double bass skills to Snub these days), Liam Donohue's vocals are far more gravely and hoarse than Mr Lukeman's.

'Harvesting the humans' is a more trad-based instrumental track, also recorded live, though the bluegrass style guitar gives it a character of its own, and it's a nice lively piece that comes out well in inevitable comparisons with Kla. The one studio track, 'The River Roar', is a strong vocal track with a tasty trad sound, Liam's vocal style sounding more than a little like Christy Moore, though, in all, it's closer to Planxty than Christy's solo stuff. The video that goes along with it, also on the CD, is a funny little piece with the band pushing their gangster image as they try to clean themselves up and take over the stage at some boy-band gig, shocking and upsetting the audience, interspersed with some clichd gangster images.

It wraps up with a live version of 'the Butterfly', a nice but fairly traditional sounding instrumental piece at first, though it does change into a bit of a funky sound in the middle that livens it all up. Also included in video format are the live performances of 'The Carnival' and 'Harvesting the humans', which are fine, though their live show is a bit static and nothing special on film. All in all, Snub are blossoming into quite a fine band and it's great to hear someone other than the O'Snodaighs and co. trying to do something new with Irish traditional music.

Donnacha DeLong

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