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Solo Sounds

Stars in their eyes

In a music world where ‘eclectic’, ‘indie’, and ‘the next best thing on the Irish music scene’ are common place in the typical Irish reviewer’s vocabulary, music buffs should go to a star turtle gig just to get the essence of what originality actually stands for. Shauna Rahman takes a look at another great Irish band whose original outlook is a breath of fresh air amongst the many stagnant music makers out there.

Star turtle has been hitting the hotspots of Dublin for five years now, enduring major changes, musically and physically along their merry way. In June 2003 lead singer Matt Walker and lead guitarist Daragh Hoey formed the band. After a number of acoustic gigs together they decided to expand, bringing in drummer Gary Nixon and bassist Barry Hyland. They spent the next two years experimenting, gigging and practising in earnest to define what sound they wanted to bring to the Irish music scene table. Recruiting Matt’s younger brother, Jonathan, as the new bassist in the summer of 2005, star turtle began recording their first EP, using the band’s name as the title of their first music collection. With the popularity of these three songs, ‘Laughing at the Days to Come’, ‘Mad Dog and Real TV’ and ‘Harry Satyr’, a loyal following was born and even now at gigs, the majority of the spectators can be heard singing along whenever these songs are played. Described by Hotpress as having ‘potential’ and by others as ‘entertaining to watch’, things are snowballing for the band as it reaches new heights.
Their second EP Nightmares & Video Games was released in April 2007 and the band played Hard Working Class Heroes festival, receiving rave reviews. They went on to headline Whelan’s in October, Bewley’s in November, and Radio City in December. As they say themselves, it was on the back of their second EP that Star turtle decided to take control of their own destiny and record an independent album. They booked a studio for July and then started an intense period of preproduction; this culminated in a headline show in Whelan’s at the end June to showcase their first album Grin&Bear.
The ten track album debut is doing the rounds on the Irish gig circuit at the moment with packed venues speaking for themselves as the band perform their album live. The most recent gig in May this year was the first of many for the new threesome or trio as they may prefer to be called. With lead guitarist, Hoey, going to fresh new pastures, the band are following suit, keeping the humour and entertainment throughout their stage performances but with a new found tightness dominating their music ability. With descriptions varying between rock, soul and funk and heavy bass lines accentuated throughout most of their songs, Star turtle’s readiness and ability to move so easily between the different music genres creating fantastic melodies and catchy rhythms, is just one reason that should spur eager gig goers to check them out. Their unique blend of seriousness in their ballads and acoustic pieces and hilarity in their comic covers of other artists’ songs means the gigs fulfill all sides of entertainment for those watching.
Look out for Orbit, the newly released single, and also the Puppetry of Cyrus the King, the last track on the album, both available for download. The band will be playing festivals around the clock in the summer as well as inhabiting Whelans, Crawdaddy, the Village and various hotspots for some summer jamming. Otherwise, you may see lead singer, Matt, bringing the band’s turtle mascot for walks around Dublin City Centre, a move that has led people to the gigs to see what ‘Turtling the Nation’ – the band’s tagline – is really about.

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