Boxes - 'Animal'
There's been a lot written in the Irish blogosphere (blogo'sphere?) about the decision of Road Records to close down. The causes and consequences of Dublin's premier independent record shop disappearing have been discussed at length here, and the best tribute to the store is written here. I think the most I can add is to highlight a recent purchase from the shop, an independent band from the same city, just by way of showing what was important about Road Records to the alternative music scene in Ireland and Dublin.
Personally, I had only been going to Road on a regular basis since about this time last year, when I got a USB turntable and, separately, got into Irish indie music. Prior to that, the shop was too esoteric and, well, indie for my tastes; and besides, there's a perfectly good Tower nearby for more ordinary-alternative sorts of purchases - a fact which must have sidelined Road for most music fans of my generation.
The combination of vinyl and Irish, however made, Road a real necessity for my listening experiences. The excellent Human Bell LP was album of the week or month; Shooting at Unarmed Men's superb Triptych album was displayed in the window for some time (possibly because it looks awesome); and favourite Irish albums from last year like So Cow's I'm Siding With My Captors and Chequerboard's Penny Black came from there as well. Of the Irish releases sourced in Road, I invariably got the crucial listen from the Indie Hour radio show/podcast - which has also unfortunately come to an end at the same time.
I heard the track above from Boxes in passing on that show, and was going to buy the album but put the purchase off (and should have gone to the album launch in the Lower Deck, too) and never did. Until I was looking for some last purchases to make from the shop -it doesn't even seem like there's a sale on, but people just seem willing to help clear their stock and buffer some of the losses. So Boxes - Animal it was (plus the new Cap Pas Cap 12" and Fucked Up - Year of the Pig, which is about as underwhelming as The Chemistry of Common Life). As it turned out, I should have been listening to this album a long time ago.
Here's the description from the store - that was one of best things about Road, the little mini-reviews of practically every album or single - as displayed on the Boxes website:
"album number three from this irish based two piece featuring mark hayes on drums and gavin cowley on bass and vocals. the album is another superb slice of post punk, math rock, post rock and old style sludge rock. its full of hard hitting but also quite intricate sounds with hints of no means no, shellac, don caballero, jesus lizard, fugazi and all things amphetamine reptile related."
(Road Records july 2008)
Animal is Boxes' third album - their second was recorded with Steve Albini, so you can tell there's a track record there - and was recorded in Experimental Audio studio in Dublin. Sonically, they're like a heavier version of current Irish favourite multi-instrumentalist R.S.A.G, or a funkier Young Widows (or, equally, a more AmRep-py Fugazi). It's metallic without being too metallic, which is what I like, and it's got the intense mathy sound of their influences down well, while still sounding sufficiently original to be interesting.
I've chosen the title track because it's, predictably, a good introduction to their sound (though far from the sum of it), but also an extra track from the album, 'Picture', because in part it exhibits, in a way that 'Animal' doesn't quite, the Irish nature of the band - 'Picture' has the typical post-rock/post-hardcore vocals in a quite noticeable Dublin accent. Which may not be particularly important, but I still like the song even more for it:
Boxes - 'Picture'
You probably won't be able to buy Animal online from Road anymore (though try your luck if you're actually in Dublin), but you can get their second album Bad Blood on Cargo Records
[Update: Road Records have Boxes - Bad Blood for sale]