"Sligo-raised, Belfast-based combo throwing the sort of radio-friendly alt.rock shapes and licks that auger well for their future."
Jim Carroll's Future Sounds The Ticket (The Irish Times)
Northern Irish acts are overcoming the tough economic times to produce some kller music.
A few years ago, Gerry Norman could easily be mistaken for the cheerleader of Belfast indie.
His band, A Plastic Rose, were still in their formative stages - their galloping momentum powered not so much by memorable songs, as by sheer exuberance and up-and-at-'em glee. No venue was too commode-like; no bill too crammed; no soundcheck too brief.
If it was possible to distil in human form all that made being in a band so great - the camaraderie, the fearlessness, the restless optimism - chances are it would have had the same hairstyle, accent and trainers as the APR frontman.
Cut to last month: and while the Gerry chatting about Promise Notes, the band's debut mini-LP, has many of the eager beaver characteristics of his younger self, he's also casting a bit of a war-vet shadow.
"Anytime I see a young band now I have a sense of dread," he says at one point. "I want to run over to them and say, 'Don't do it. You don't know what you're letting yourself in for'."
The there's Robyn G. Shiels. It may perhaps be a stretch to paint the Kilrea folk rogue as a wide-eyed ingénue, but his decision to give up the day job and devote his energies full-time to songwriting was hardly an act of cold logic.
Again, though, a recent chat found him in pensive form. A broken jaw wasn't helping matters, but the unreleased album lurking in the vaults (an album that could quite comfortably go toe-to-toe with any number of the alt. country big boys) had left perhaps the more significant bruising.
Davy Matchett tells a story of a conversation he had ten years ago with Gary Lightbody. Recently dropped by their label, Lightbody was fretting about an upcoming rent demand, and wondering if maybe it was time to knock the Snow Patrol thing on the head. Davy reluctantly offered to help his old school friend find a job. Gary said it sounded like an idea. And a few hours later, Davy rang back, with the time and date of an interview. "Cheer," Gary said, "But I was thinking I'd maybe give it another go."
"Noisey, emotive and with its heart beating and bleeding all over its sleeve - it's a collection of songs that while lacking dead-eyed cool, have no trouble convincing of their sincerity"
Colin Carberry - Hotpress Magazine October 08
Self-proclaimed ‘purveyors of post-hardcore tinged catchy alternative rock’ and critically acclaimed exponents of the Northern Irish music scene A Plastic Rose’s first mini album does not fail to deliver an enthusiastic, powerful experience. APR are a mixed bunch of Sligo/Tyrone lads who have received attention from the likes of Jo Whiley and Gary Lightbody; their new release ‘The Promise Notes’ is a 7 track album containing some of the most promising music Ireland has to offer of late.
Indeed, the band demonstrates their 90’s Alt-Rock definition through similar vocal performances to those of The Frames although this comparison is too sweeping; APR are completely distinctive in asserting their sound.
‘The Promise Notes’ fluidity is commendable, each song deserving its place among the others. The length of each track is also more than satisfying with only one not reaching the four –five minute mark.
The album opens with Oceans, a dual-vocal driven track to be released as a single. The band does well to entice us with their melodic harmonies and powerful guitar skills. This track is perhaps one of the more contemplative pieces, it certainly ascends above the rest in terms of the feel-good atmosphere of this record. It is also quite certainly the most obvious choice for a single.
The Metal Man opens with a filthy grunge riff accompanied by an impressively simple but catchy bass line. The use of contrasting tones and effects are well used on this entire album.
A noisy cacophony at times, this album shows the wide range of APR’s talents. The visceral sounds of The Stuttering are astoundingly beautiful while the breakdowns in many of the songs prove that not only can APR’s vocalists Gerry & Ian sing, but they are superior lyric-smiths. The album is a testament to simplified effects used to their maximum potential; delay, reverb and compressed tones are all noticeable but do not overpower the sound by any means.
The acoustic accompaniment on Tiger Tail is a welcome interlude to this album. Powerful drumming helps this track to build up to a chorus which swells and recedes charmingly. An unexpected breakdown progresses this song to an almost Enter Shikari-esque screamo style.
Louder than Me resonates closely to Oceans making use of an intuitive guitar riff and intrinsic double harmonies and vocals. Two Steps is similarly one of the more meditative tracks; a powerful performance from each member of the band makes it one of the highlights in this album. As a penultimate track it reminds its audience that APR can achieve both harmonious and discordant music; both of which are pleasing to the ears.
Last Shining Star closes ‘The Promise Notes’ with a stunning idea. Every instrument is restrained as if to prove that APR’s likeability is not in their technique but their performance. The band portrays a lot of their honesty through the slower tracks such as this.
It is hard to find fault with this record. If you ask me, the band should be heralded as the next major Irish Export in Alternative Rock. Perhaps the production is a little lack-lustre at times but even so, at times the raw nature of their music is aided by this tiny hiccup. As an introduction to A Plastic Rose, this new release is certainly an accurate representation of where the band intend to progress. The Promise Notes is available through Bandcamp and Facebook (for free if you follow their instructions).
Drop-d Rating: 8/10
Northern Ireland’s A Plastic Rose have come up trumps with their seven track release ‘The Promise Notes’. With a sound rooted in nineties alt-rock, the band have managed to come up with a solid radio friendly sound that’s sure to get them noticed.
The Di Di Mau release starts off with ‘Oceans’ which opens in dramatic anthemic fashion before a double time tempo adds to the intensity of the track. Little flourishes of strings and extra vocal lines fill the track and it becomes a hell of a lot more than just a standard rock track. One thing noticeable the throughout is the passion with which the band play and sing.
Slightly moody, edgy and comfortable in their skins, A Plastic Rose like to change the tempo of their tracks, as featured again in ‘The Stuttering’. It works and should work remarkably well live, building up to fist clenching finishes. ‘Tiger Tail’ starts off with a tender guitar and bass and they make the most of dual vocalists.
This is a solid release which should pave the way for the band to play to better audiences and to get a full length album out. When they do, you’d better be first in line for the tickets. Total Rockdom beckons