Tuam outfit underline town’s diverse canon

Groove Tube with Cian O’Connell

Be it scum-pop, garage rock or their self-described skronky tonk, Tuam guitar band Oh Boland have long been masters of their craft. It is eight years since their first album, and the three-piece’s latest release is the first to stem from its revised, current lineup.

The songs still centre around the songwriting of frontman Niall Murphy, whose penchant for shrieking, coarse guitar sounds has long informed the walls of noise that dominate the group’s live set.

While this record is not a departure from those moments, it does introduce a more contemplative lyrical style. The ten tracks on Western Leisure arrived last Friday.

“I’ve always written songs very much in a melody-forward sort of way,” Niall explains.

“Power pop is a huge influence. Sixties pop. Good solid choruses, good vocal melodies, have always been the first prevailing mechanism around which a song kind of floats. As a consequence of that, I’ve always treated lyrics as a little bit of an afterthought. Not quite but comparatively.

“I’ve always used big choruses or catchy melodies, and also very ignorant or very abrasive guitar sounds, as a way of shrouding or concealing lyrics. I don’t consider myself a very good lyricist now – by no means – I’m not saying this is the Dylan record or a big literary statement or anything like that. It’s just maybe the most considered batch of songs I’ve written in a while.”

The title track on Western Leisure is about as soft as you’ll find in Oh Boland’s catalogue. It verges on country-pop and moves from Salthill to the Long Walk in its narrative. It comes from 2018 – a year Niall spent living on Sandy Road. As it turns out, country has always been an influence.

“Neil Young and all that kind of stuff has always been a flipside to some of the more aggressive things I’d be into,” he says.

Pictured: Oh Boland…Western Leisure out now.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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