Thursday, February 2, 2012

Album Review: The Minutes - Marcata

Album Rating: B
Last summer, in the midst of a lull during the second day of Leeds Festival, I found myself wandering between tents looking for a band to pass the time with before the Deftones took to the main stage. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I finally wound up on the tiny BBC Introducing Stage, on which a little known Irish trio called The Minutes were busy making a name for themselves. I wouldn't go so far as to say that they were the best band that I saw that weekend, but they were by far the loudest, and if nothing else that ensured that the bluesy rockers made quite an impression. Now, almost six years since their formation, the Dubliners are finally unveiling their debut LP, and the biggest compliment that I can give is that it fully lives up to such raucous showings.

Instrumental in this success is Kevin McMahon, the man behind the mixing desk. The producer, who has also worked with the likes of The Walkmen and Titus Andronicus in his time does a simply marvellous job in catching the full-blooded energy and excitement of those live exertions, with a raw, distorted sound proving to be Marcata's defining characteristic. Of course, the band themselves are also deserving a hell of a lot of credit, as they provide some mighty fine moments which are complimented by McMahon's contributions. Their sound isn't too hard to describe - just think The Black Keys at their most direct, with everything turned up beyond eleven and thus rocking twice as hard - and on the vast majority of the record they utilise it to blitzing effect.

This is particularly true of the first half, which sees the trio come out all guns blazing with some of the most purposeful and plain rocking songs in their canon. Past singles 'Fleetwood,' 'Black Keys' (coincidence? I think not!) and 'Secret History' are all among the highlights, as is 'Gold,' which provides perhaps their most melodically satisfying moment. By comparison, the second half sees them lose a little bit of steam, but there is an excellent late standout in the shape of 'I.M.T.O.D.' while the record's 35-minute run time ensures that it never threatens to drag, despite that noticeable tail-off in standards.

Even so, it's the rip-roaring first half that deservedly draws most of the plaudits. Indeed, in taking so long to reach this stage of their career, the band have perhaps honed in their sound to an optimum level, resulting in such enthralling highlights and a rock-solid record as a whole. All of their tricks have been done before, but in Marcata The Minutes have created a refreshingly bullshit-free rock 'n' roll album with a clear goal that it achieves with plenty to spare. Maybe subsequent releases will see them do a little more to expand their horizons, but for now they're sticking firmly to what they know, and on this evidence they're all the better for it. Oh, and for the record, I enjoyed their live set a hell of a lot more than the Deftones.

You can stream Marcata here.

Official Website


1. Monster
2. Black Keys
3. Gold
4. Fleetwood
5. Believer
6. Secret History
7. Indian Wings
8. Black And Blue (A Letter)
9. Heartbreaker
10. Guilt Quilt
11. I.M.T.O.D.
12. Monsters

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