Updated: Sep 12, 2021
This Charming Band captivate and impress
I'm not going all big head here but I do get sent a lot of music and I honestly can't remember how I first got a sniff of Soundstrand. What I do know is that when I first heard them I was...what? Not blown away, the earth didn't cease spinning - I was charmed. It's an underrated quality and one that they have in spades.
Soundstrand are four mates from Finglas in North Dublin. That in itself is a great start. As Karl Whitney agreeably argues in his excellent book Hit Factories - A Journey Through The Industrial Cities of British Pop, where a band spend their formative years can have a considerable influence on their sound and how they come across to an audience.
When I made (If It's Easy) You're Doing It Wrong track of the week in January I explicitly referenced two bands they brought pleasantly to mind - Belle & Sebastian and The Housemartins. Completely coincidentally both bands are mentioned in Karl's book, as products of Glasgow and Hull respectively. For example in the Glasgow scene, there was a culture of mutual support where bands and individuals with access to industry tools would help each other out. Full disclosure - I have never been to Finglas. What it seems to have engendered in our four likely lads is a breezy confidence, a certain sense of nostalgia (judging by their single covers) and a wry, alternative take on life manifested in their droll, witty lyrics detailing life in the boring 20s (purely lockdown related). I don't imagine many YouTube influencers promoting a message of 'if it's easy you're doing it wrong'.
Formed in 2017, Soundstrand comprise chief lyricist & bassist Shane Aherne, Dara Clancy on lead guitar, David Solola on rhythm guitar and Jude Finn on the drum stool. Like Belle & Sebastian they have a slightly shambling sound which sounds as it could grind to a halt unexpectedly except for Jude's inventive and fill-filled drumming driving them on.
After releasing five songs, written over the course of the band’s lifespan, as Words That Rhyme in October 2019, they played the Finglas 'Fright Night Festival' to a capacity crowd (local geography wins again). Using this momentum, the band ran a charity gig featuring Public Warning and local band Liberty in February 2020. Shortly after a show with Garageland in the National Concert Hall, the band’s promising year shuddered to a lockdown stop.
Embracing the setback, Soundstrand cracked on by writing & improving songs to create their ideal EP. Set to be released during 2021, Man Made Boys is the outcome. The parenthetically titled first single from the EP is in the video above and was released in January. And made its way to this writer's welcoming ears. Soundstrand - charmed to meet ya!