There must be something in the water up North these days as the consistent level of output is certainly at an all-time high. In the past two years we’ve seen bands like Two Door Cinema Club, ASIWYFA, Fighting with Wire and Cashier No.9 put Northern Ireland back on the map as one of the most exciting scenes in the country.
Continuing the trend of exciting new music from Northern Ireland is Derry-based 4-piece General Fiasco. Far from being newcomers, these boys have been honing their skills since 2007 and have built up a more than impressive CV. On their debut album Buildings (2010) it sounded like the brothers Strathern drew heavily from the mid 90’s sound of alternative America. Fans of Jimmy Eat World and the Get Up Kids could certainly find time to digest General Fiasco’s obvious knack for a great pop song. The only thing letting their debut down was the thin production levels that seem to be a constant threat to many Irish releases. Notwithstanding, appearances at both Glastonbury and Reading, as well as a coveted slot at SXSW, only further cemented why the NME included them as one of “the ten hopes for the near future”.
The latest effort comes in the form of this 4 track EP. Released on the London-based indie label Dirty Hit, General Fiasco have finally proven that they’re not just a one-trick pony. The recent addition of keyboardist/guitarist Stuart Bell seems to have opened the band up to a whole host of new dynamics, evident on title track opener Waves – and Roxette’s “don’t bore us – get to the chorus” motto has been applied ten-fold. Still intact is the band’s skill with a perfect pop song. Clocking in at under 3 minutes and hook-laden throughout, Waves is the song that will separate General Fiasco from the rest. The Hot Hot Heat-style rhythm section, coupled with the Cribs-esque guitars, are a sure fire recipe for an indie club floor-filler. Gone is the thin, low budget production – in its place are buzzing Gibsons, Pinkerton-like keyboards (courtesy of newcomer Bell) and more hooks than an issue of ‘Anglers Net’.
Proving that there is more than just the title track, the band scoped an award for ‘Best Song’ at the Northern Irish Music Awards, with their tale of friendship and new beginnings The Age You Start Losing Friends. Another straight to the point slice of bubblegum pop served sunny side up. No need for repetitive intros or the over-exposed “intro/verse/pre-chorus, verse/pre-chorus/chorus” formula. It seems General Fiasco know what they want to say, how to say it, and deliver it all in under 3 minutes. A lesson many of the “hard working class heroes” of this island might pay attention to.
Recent heavy rotation from UK radio stalwarts Steve Lamacq, Zane Lowe and Huw Stephens has drawn a lot of attention towards General Fiasco. Let’s hope the band can put another star on the map for Northern Ireland in 2012.