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A spooky stab at reviving the concept album
Olaf Tyaransen, 15 Apr 2011
Never too popular to begin with, the concept album is very much an endangered sonic species in this new downloading era. But Dublin folk-rock four-piece Tarantella Fall – formed in 2009 by former members of Johnny One Ball & the Castratos and The Kerbs – have bravely chosen to go that route for their debut long player.
Recorded last autumn in Karma Korner Studios, under the production stewardship of Dave Christophers, the 13 tracks on Abandoned Road collectively tell the story of the luckless John Wilmore, a troubled soul who’s taken more than one wrong turn on life’s rocky road – starting off with accidentally killing his parents as a child, graduating to murdering his sister, and generally going downhill from there. Of course, the casual listener mightn’t necessarily realise this on first listen (read Celina Murphy’s interview with the band in last week’s Killing Bono issue for the full skinny), but, while they standalone quite nicely, the songs are dark, moody and spellbinding enough to draw you slowly into Wilmore’s web of intrigue.
Lyrically, it’s reminiscent of the storytelling of Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen or Willie Vlautin. Musically, it veers between the alt. rock musings of REM, the heavy guitar workouts of Neil Young, and the sinister atmospherics of Slint. Conceptually, it conjures up thoughts of a David Lynch or Coen brothers road movie with some Tim Burton-esque twists and turns.
Vocalist Chris Kinsella sings with a world weary American baritone, adding real weight and believability to Wilmore’s tale of woe, while drummer Neville Foster, bassist Graham Keogh and guitarist Ronan O’Donovan (who wrote the lyrics) provide a tight and assured backbeat on this inspired and innovative debut.
The road might be less traveled, but it’s no musical cul de sac. Even so, it’ll be intriguing to see where Tarantella Fall go from here.