Album Review: The Redmond Barry’s - 1949 MURDERS

Review by Ira Henderson

I listened to The Redmond Barry’s’ (…Barry’s’s?) debut album, 1949 MURDERS, three times before realizing that my itunes was set to repeat. The six songs on the album all kind of bled together. That is not to say that the music is bad. It’s just bleeds together.

The production quality is good. Very professional. Almost too much so, in that it sounds very much the same as every other pop punk rock album I’ve ever heard. This Montreal duo plays confidently and competently, and this album isn’t horrible, for a debut, but it didn’t grab me at first and isn’t really growing on me. The stuff aspires to the simple, raw crunch of other rock duos but it doesn’t quite live up to the infectious riffs of the Black Keys or the freewheeling experimentation of the White stripes.

The guitar pumps out the power chords, with an arpeggio here and a short scale run there. There are no big riffs. There are no solos. Once or twice there are nice offbeat arpeggios that twist around the pumping beat, but not often. The guitar’s crunchy, distorted sound stays the same from song to song, with only a few small diversionary exceptions, which lends to the tracks’ bleeding into each other.

 The drummer is better than the guitarist. The drum track is consistently solid, and at times complex, verging on impressive. The overall tempo, however, stays almost exactly the same through all six songs. There are a few times when things slow down a bit for a refrain or an outro, but apart from those, you could play the whole album to a metronome. The style is also fairly straight-forward rock, and although, when you pay attention, the drummer is hitting a lot of different stuff and making lots of relatively complex noise, the drumming is never really featured. The drumming is just there to prop up the guitar, and ends up lost in the crash and fuzz. It would seem that the stronger member of the band has his hands full holding the weaker up.

As for the singing… these guys don’t sing. Then again, few do these days. The consensus seems to be that audiences prefer boys yelling. Far be it from me to judge. At least these guys hit most of the notes. They do an interesting thing a couple of times, where one repeats a slower, lower lyric while the other yells faster over him. It creates an interesting weaving rhythm but tends to get sucked into the chunky drone of the music.

The less I pay attention to the lyrics, the more they make sense. The lyrics consist of interchangeably straight-forward declarations of vanilla angsty adolescent “rebelliousness”. The emphasis is on loosely connected symbolism, focused around a vague and vaguely clichéd theme. Speaking of clichés, they even have a hissy spoken clip (in French – they’re from Montreal) accusing someone of having nothing behind their mask. I guess these things seem weightier when you’re fourteen and first discovering them. I don’t know how old these guys are, but if they’ve made it all the way through puberty and are still this whiney they need a slap.

In conclusion, I have just finished listening to 1949 MURDERS by The Redmond Barry’s, a new rock duo out of Montreal, for the ninth time and I don’t think it’s worth double-digits. I feel like I’ve heard the thing nine hundred times already. Not because it’s particularly bad or boring in and of itself. Just because it sounds the same as every other post-punk/post-grunge/post-emo/post-whatever-the-fuck-Blink-182-was/post-rock rock album out there.

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The EP, that was recorded by Carlos Avila and Shawn Mullen at the crack of dawn in unconventional spaces, is set to be self-released early in the new year, followed by a Canadian east coast tour.
Download the first single, “Woke Up Dead” now: http://theredmondbarrys.bandcamp.com

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1 comment:

Ansis Kalnins said...

I haven't heard the EP yet but having heard some of their demos and seeing them live this is definitely not a band that can be compared to "Blink-182".

They're also nothing like the rock duos you've compared them to. Maybe I can see a hint of The White Stripes but comparing them to Black Keys just doesn't make sense to me.

What drew me to them live was the drummers energy and vocals and having seen the guitarist in other local bands these are two very skilled musicians. The drummer goes beyond "almost impressive" and yet they don't take themselves too seriously on stage so this "weighty" business is confusing to me probably just a case of taking things too seriously.

After reading this review I only hope this EP lives up to the raw energy of both their live show and demos.