Remember bands like Saw Doctors, Whipping Boy and The Pale? Bands who played student unions, your cool old brother had their t-shirts, you stole his records and got into these fabled, legendary bands that didn’t sound anything like the brit/yank rock you’re listening to with rapt consumer attention. This is homegrown. You could meet these guys outside a pub and bum a smoke off them. That was the draw of these bands, unlike the bands in the posters on your wall, you could aspire to be like them. It gave you a sense of pride listening to these records, knowing they were irish guys just like you and me.
“Introducing” conjures up these images for me. A time before celtic tiger blandness in music, where musicians put their all into their albums for the sake of the music, not for the payday. It has our cultural identity stamped all over it. From songs influenced by the ghosts of showbands passed, tractors and our own knack of turning the humour magnifying glass onto ourselves. Ciaran is quite simply a cunning and comedic lyricist and songwriter. “I got a map to find my head, and found it up my ass” (June Madness), “I’m clocking in, i’m clocking out, i got a desk, a rubber stamp, a calculator for a brain, and half a gram to ease the pain” (This Congregation), are just some of Mr O’Neil’s fine bon mots. It’s an album you can’t help grinning along to. Not just because of the cheeky lines, but because of the welcome return of that that feeling of pride that someone out there is making music so totally unafraid of parodying itself, so quintessentially irish.
(CHEW YOUR OWN FAT – ALBUM REVIEW 2012)
Ciarán O Neill grew up in Cavan on a diet of Irish showband tapes his parents had lying around the house, So its no wonder the first tune on his debut album is a tongue in cheek reference to his youth, “Country Tune” a typical country sound which he uses as a backdrop to talk about more sinister issues, ”Feed Feed Feed on more than you can eat, Fill your pockets full of cement” which hints at Ireland`s “boom” times, & “I list the things i want to be, burned old clothes, I turned over a leaf” gives us a nod that change is in the air, a recurring theme throughout the album..
Ciarán picked up the guitar at 14 and straight away put pen to paper..Growing up on the Cavan/ Fermanagh border gave him plenty of inspiration. The people, the landscape, the troubles, the sense of community or lack thereof. Ciarán saw the everyday madness and separated himself to write about it. In “June Madness” he writes “I rolled the fields like carpet, let soil fall through my hands, i got a map to find my head & found it up my arse”
He manages to be witty & serious all in the same line, almost in an attempt to reel you in with a laugh & leave you lingering with a thought…In the 2 minute ditty that is (Track 7) Half Man Half Tractor” he confesses “Im half man half woman, & Im half man half coward”. This album is a good Introduction to Ciarán`s world, & when you listen to it you will end up knowing him & maybe empathising with his perspective.
Ciarán still lives in Cavan near where he grew up in the town of Belturbet, He is part of a local resurgence of original music in the area, Probably not best known as a centre for the arts, Cavan has stepped up to the mark, the local scene is now alive with original music & writing by the likes of Philip Doherty who setup the Gonzo theatre in the town as an outlet for his own plays and other local writer & performers.
The album “Introducing” was recorded in an old school house in Roscommon by Jamie Byrne, The players are mostly friends from around the area, One of which is Whipping Boy frontman Fearghal Mc Kee who takes over main vocal duties on the albums epic finale “Look Da No Hands” It leaves with Fearghal saying “Whats the point in worrying, when we know were gona die”…Its very clear that Ciarán is aware that he wont be here forever, There is a sense of a clock ticking & maybe with this album he`s starting to get his books in order!