Innisfallen

Live review from Anti-Social Media Underground:

SHS_09938.jpgSetlist:

1. Slow Motion
2. Jugglers
3. Pink Elephant
4. Snow Lion
5. No Reply (The Reprise)
6. Butterfly Effect

The Underground gig with a difference started off with a band that hadn’t played the Underground in ages, the duration of which included hiatuses, changes in lineups and general ambiguity about the state of affairs of the band. Which is why it’s been a relief to see them recently playing gigs around town, in gradually increasing frequency. These guys, in some form, have been around for quite a while, and since the earliest days, it seems, they have conjured images of beautiful music and shimmering tunes with an added rock ‘n’ roll punch. The years, it would also seem, have not taken away much from this approach, since it’s very much the sort of music they play now too. There are lots of shiny-sounding guitars, used to express resonating and dramatic melodies, which vary from being peppy and dancey (Snow Lion, Pink Elephant) to slower, more anchored tunes (No Reply). They do use a tone of effects, especially for the lead guitar; however, it’s not wanky noodling or flashy overlong solos that these pedals serve. Instead, the guitars are atmospheric and sweet but firm in their tone, and it creates a rich, fresh-sounding wall of sound against which the very smooth bass and singer Erik’s odd-but-soothing voice can work to bring together their engaging sound. They generally play tunes like the Killers do, but with more richness in the arrangements and experiment in guitar tones, making it more akin to what Arcade Fire or Fleet Foxes do, and with a dose of the Cranberries’ energy to top things off (particularly in Butterfly Effect, which actually sounded like one of theirs, even with its oddly harmonium-toned guitars). In songs like Slow Motion was manifested their main strength, which is that they can be forceful in their sound without added abrasion from the guitar, which is a useful form of musical brevity to have. This does, however, make the music come off a little bland at points. Also, the singing is a bit more nonchalant and off-key than the songs call for, since the laidback voice in a slightly off-kilter tone is the primarily used mode of singing, but this is manageable and doesn’t much detract from the songs (though some might disagree about the magnitude). Overall, it was a very fitting, way to start off a very promising show.

– Shashwati Kala

 

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Live Review from Underground 61: Bands named after mystical places or ones that reference the natural world already signal that powerful passions will be coming into play. Innisfallen’s music is everything elusive, beautiful and frightening that is evoked by its namesake, an island steeped in history in a big lake near Killarney, Ireland. With a harder, more ragged sound than heard at their last Underground performance,-symbolized in part by Eric’s long fringe falling over his face – Innisfallen revealed a darker underside, taking their music to new levels of versatility and sincerity. They proclaim what you know is true – that happiness and beauty can be threatening and destructive. Any which way this band chooses to perform their music, underneath the surface style is still the same inspired, lyrical depth. Innisfallen’s set kicked off with an instrumental, soft and mysterious at first with chiming otherworldly keyboards. The electro trip-hop sound was soon joined by a juddering blast from the rhythm section as a menacing bassline and drums smashed head on into the beauty of the melody. Their second song mixing loud/ soft dynamics of a grunge vibe was marked by some savage, searing riffs picked out on the lead guitar. The third song in the set was marked by a change to purer, harder alt.-rock. Just as I was thinking these guys should have a full Cantopop makeover and be dance kings who do seemingly pointless jump-about choreography in unison, Eric followed with an apology for the band ‘not being attractive’ and for ‘not having hair on their chests.’ (Are you listening, Mr. Nick Spodac?) Instead of running straight out of the Underground and signing a contract with the Emperor Group for a ‘Please Exploit Me Ruthlessly’ contract, Innisfallen stayed right where they were and launched into some more of their excellent brand of chiming, jangly lead guitar and warm, thudding rhythms to complement Eric’s gentler, but still edgy, vocals. Their fifth song was a return to a trippier dynamic, mixed with some rock interplays. The thumping, steady drums and bass were charged loud enough for paramedics to bring dead people back to life, who would then be forever thankful that their lives had been saved by some seriously good music. Innisfallen’s final song was a more poppy, new wave-infused sound with lead vocalist and bassist combining tonsils and voice boxes. (No, they weren’t into some deep tongue-pashing, just singing together.) A squirt of smoke from Club Cixi’s smoke machine, some epilepsy-inducing, pretty revolving lights on the floor, a BIG impressive energetic final burst from the band and it was all over. Isobel S. Saunders innisfallen4.jpg Live Review from Underground 51: If it took Spodac a few bars to establish their credentials, it took Innisfallen a matter of seconds, delivering young, spirited songs with a sense of independence from whatever else is going on in the Underground, on the radio or on MTV (or whatever it is the “young people” listen to these days). Singer Eric Cheung captured audience attention early with an endearing grin and vocals that effortlessly spanned light and shade, and. Songs sung like they really meant it, plus some excellent, spidery guitar rhythms prevented any risk of Innisfallen sliding towards an indie version of the same clichés that let down Spodac. I don’t think people over 30 can make this kind of music. At the risk of sounding like I have a crush on them, Innisfallen look like the real thing too. Lead singer from the cheeky scamp school. Marvelously angular guitarist complete with Elvis Costello specs, and a drummer with a perfect drummer haircut, wearing a sweater. Bass guy, you’ve got to get a “look”. A great set of songs warmed up the Underground with threw up influences and references thick and fast, but escaping pigeonholing. To paraphrase someone else talking about something else, when you can make such diverse comparisons, there’s a fair chance that what you have is actually something quite original. Best moment: fifth song, a Coral-ly kind of number when Cheung’s eyes started bulging like Lou Reed in the seventies. Paul M innisfallen3.jpg Live Review from Underground 45: Eric passionately implores the audience to stand closer to the band, joking with the crowd and willing them closer. It works. The public move and groove to Innisfallen’s ambient sounds. This band plays rock thats not easy-listening but neither is it hardcore, with Eric’s heartfelt yet unpolished vocals driving the music. This band makes me feel good about HK’s live music scene. I’m looking forward to their long awaited debut CD. Mark Emerson innisfallen2.jpg Live Review from Underground 31: oooh MORE handsome guys! Innisfallen have evolved since I last saw them, I think I might prefer their previous more Brit-pop style than the indie rock I am watching tonight. I do like the stage theatrics and the lead vocalist’s intensity. Wonder what they’ll evolve into? Rosie Chan innisfallen1.jpg Live Review from Underground 18: Have to award these guys the ‘tightest’ band of the night, the musicianship is strong and Eric on vocals has improved a lot since their last Underground appearance. The songs are Brit-pop and R.E.M. inspired and the open string sound is most welcomed by the audience. Eric is chatty and conveys the messages that they have in their lyrics. A thoroughly interesting band to watch too. Keep up the melodies in the songwriting guys – your songwriting & arrangements are outstanding! C.B. innisfallen.jpg Live Review from Underground 9: INNISFALLEN. First time I had seen this four-piece band and I was blown away. Opening the Underground is never an easy task but the boys did wonderfully well. With I believe a guest guitarist, their songs were melodic, a bit brit-pop but very driven and jangly, just what I like. Eric the guitarist (also bassist in the fab Hard Candy -see Underground 5) took the vocals, and although undoubtedly a bit nervous, his vocals went well with the clever chord progressions. Watch out for Innisfallen.I can’t wait to see them again. Those bands in Hong Kong who think they can write good pop songs should listen to these guys. Brilliant. William Sickey

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