Never Leave Anywhere: this could easily be mistaken for the title of a dubious travel book. It is, in fact, the debut from Dublin group The Hedge Schools, which consists of Joe Chester and Patrick Barrett (formerly of Ten Speed Racer).
|Artist||The Hedge Schools||II.2|
|Title||Never Leave Anywhere|
Never Leave Anywhere: this could easily be mistaken for the title of a dubious travel book. It is, in fact, the debut from Dublin group The Hedge Schools, which consists of Joe Chester and Patrick Barrett (formerly of Ten Speed Racer). Off the back of supporting acclaimed international acts such as Californian folk-rock act Sun Kil Moon and Colm Mac Con Iomaire of the Frames (you know, the violinist) the band are releasing their new album later this month.
For the historically uninformed amongst you (which includes me – God bless you Wikipedia), hedge schools were outdoor Catholic schools which sprung up in the nineteenth century as a result of the penal laws and prohibition of Catholic education. So what can we expect from a band which is a byword for alfresco, denominational education? Well, quite a bit in the way of interesting, acoustic tunes, actually.
Atmospheric opener “Day One,” with its soft vocals and simple, sparse piano, highlights the band’s preference for intricate, picking arrangements. The song, which starts quietly, builds up to a lush, climactic cacophony very much in the tradition of Mogwai – minus the distortion. Barrett’s lyrics seem to be yearning for clarity, both figuratively and acoustically, as he inquisitively muses “Could where you are, be where you’re going?” over an increasingly indomitable wall of noise. Lead single “Sunday Song” is a slight gear change towards no-fuss alternative rock and it feels somehow out of place amidst the soulful, pensive, folksy delights of “Butterfly” and “In the Morning.” The appearance of drums as well as an effects-laden lead seems disjointed in what is an otherwise acoustic-driven album.
“Butterfly,” which toys with the notion of the impending loss of security, is the album’s emotional heart and showcases true song-writing ability. On the whole, this album contains some by-the-numbers folk songs, however, it is also interesting and in places very inventive and well worth a listen if folksy acoustic guitar songs is how you get your kicks.