There are many ways for a band to make themselves memorable. Trying to tailor a new, modern dress for a rather old-fashioned genre like the blues is definitely one of them. With its first album Killer Wails The Mountain Man Band creates a contemporary access to the diversified world of blues rock and found thereby a niche, the Irish musical landscape can only benefit from.
Even though the album contains only four songs, it has already crystallized the path this band wants to walk on: Hard drums, gritty vocals and simply designed tunes. This is anything else but surprising, according to Declan Keane, guitarist and singer of the band: “I’ve always been attracted to nice simple blues and folk music like Robert Johnson and electric stuff by artists like R.L. Burnside. It’s usually very simple concepts that can stand alone without any other instruments. I try and bring that kind of feel to the band, and the music can usually be played on a single acoustic without losing too much.”
The album’s acoustic version of ‘Shot My Gun’ might be the best piece for proving his intentions. Soft and gentle but with rapid pace the fingers fly over the guitar strings while Keane sings with his characteristic grittiness. In fact, in some ways this song might even be the hidden core of the album, since it boils the band’s naturalness and ease down to an essence. The track ‘Bang Bang’, however, distinguishes itself with its hard drums, which unfortunately pushes the other musical components too much into the background. ‘Play The Song’ stands out through its well-balanced compositions and its catchy tunes which makes it to the album’s most mass suitability track and therefore something what describes another important part of The Mountain Man Band’s intention as Keane describes it: “We want to to create music that makes you want to move along to a groove and we are trying to make it relevant and interesting to people who aren’t usually drawn to that kind of thing. ”
This can only work with one thing: Pure simplicity. While every song of Killer Wails has its own characteristic feature, it also gives Keane and his band colleague Pádraic Carter room for distinguishing themselves from other bands. The simplicity, however, has also its reasons as the band explains. Keane and Carter were friends, but separated when Keane decided to move to Canada for a while. When he returned to Ireland, the two friends met up again and made plans for their band project. “Two friends setting up a band!”, Declan remembers, “What could be simpler we thought!”. It still took them a whole year to finish their first album, though. “I think it took us a while to find the right system for writing”, Keane explains. “Also, Pádraic lives in Galway while I live in Dublin currently, so that brings its own challenges, but we make it work”
Even though the album Killer Wails sometimes lacks a bit of precision in production, it is a debut album which makes curious about the band’s hopefully near musical future. Its interpretation of blues-rock converted into its simple, gritty style constitutes a good basis for further artistic experiments. A well-done debut, even if it comes a little shorter than desired.