Week two of a new feature on Goldenplec will see James Hendicott on a bi-weekly basis, cast a spotlight on an band you probably should be keeping an eye on. This won’t be just restricted to Irish acts either as from time to time James will delve into the global market for a pick.
Limerick and Clare based friends Glen Scully-Guitar (vocals), Dave “Finch” Hinchy (guitar/ vocals), Mike Hogan (lead guitar/ vocals) Cein Daly (bass/ vocals) Conor Ryan (keys/vocals) and Noel Mooney (drums). Leading Armies got drunk at a Christmas Party, jammed all night and came out a fully formed work of genius come St Stephen’s Day. At least that’s what they’ll tell the biographers. It has undoubtedly been six months of remarkable progress.
It’s hard to define Leading Armies, particularly when you take into account that the only videos you’ll dig out online are not particularly representative, downbeat numbers. That’s not to say those tracks are bad (they’re not), but you’ll have to trust me when we say the live show – which I caught whilst judging at Indie Week Ireland last week – is incomparably lively. Live vids like the one below only tell part of the story. Live features included a Westside whistle intro, elements of ska, reggae, indie-rock, hip-hop and charming summer-pop, with those slower numbers functioning more as a mid-set break. If we had to point to a prevailing style it’d be a reggae-pop fusion, but there’s the flexibility of a cover band (they’re not one) here, delivered with enviable confidence. With nothing down on record just yet, we can only go on Leading Armies’ status as an astoundingly accomplished live act after just six months.
For a start, Leading Armies blew away all comers to win Indie Week Ireland, which means only six months into their lifespan, they’re already booked to headline a festival over in Toronto. It’s no fluke; the shows highlighted a fan base that’s already growing as well as all the live assets I rambled about above. Tracks like ‘Thinkin’ About’ (above), show a political awareness in their lyrics that’s been grabbed straight from the upbeat protests of reggae’s more famed echelons, but there’s an obviously love of hip-hop seeping through live, too.
More than that, though, six months in to their existence Leading Armies are already able to string together assorted genres, convey depth, shine musically and act like they belong on stage. Their style is effortless, a hangover-clearing, enthralling take on relatively cheese-free charm. Every member has a chance to stamp their own identity across the band, and each does so with brilliant maturity.
And the flip side?
If there’s one thing that Leading Armies haven’t really succeeded in just yet, it’s producing something that backs up that live show. Their YouTube video output to date only shines when it’s filmed on-stage, but with an EP being mixed as I type, expect that to change before too long. The first single’s due next week, too.
You could head for Canada in October and watch them headline. Alternatively, keep an eye on the links below, and expect appearances across Ireland to flow faster than Glen’s vocals in the next few months.