Category: Archive

‘Villains?’ will steal your heart

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Eileen Murphy

VILLAINS? The Saw Doctors. CD released on Ryko Records, SAWDOC 008.

Take a bit of country, mix in a dash of punk and add a healthy measure of rock and roll. Shake well, and let it ferment for a few years in an out-of-the-way corner of Tuam, Co. Galway. Distill contents onto a CD, and that’ll give you an idea of the flavor of Saw Doctors’ new album, “Villains?”

It’s been five years since the Saw Doctors released their last album, 1997’s memorable “Songs from Sun Street.” In the interim, the band, comprising Leo Moran, Davey Carton and Pierce Doherty, has weathered some staff changes: most notably the original drummer, Padraig Stevens following a brief residency by Altan drummer Jimmy Higgins. Recent developments include the addition of a permanent horn section featuring ex-Waterboy Anthony Thistlethwaite and Danni Healy. The band toured all over Ireland, Europe and America, honing its distinctive style, which is captured in their latest studio offering.

“Villains?” is, simply, a great album. It’s a deceptively addictive compilation, starting with the title track, in which songwriter and lead guitarist Moran tackles the question of moral ambiguity in the modern age. He manages to set his existential pondering to a catchy beat, while Doherty cranks up the bass, giving the number a surprisingly gritty, urban undertone. Moran also scores with a charming tale of heartbreak and fast food, the synthesizer-heavy, showband-meets-cocktail-lounge inspired number, “Chips.”

Lead singer Davey Carton has, arguably, one of the best voices to be found in any genre of Irish music. He demonstrates his ability to belt out a number in high-energy cuts like “Bound to the Peace” and “This is Me,” but shows restraint and a flair for subtle phrasing on the quieter numbers like “I Know I’ve Got Your Love” and “Still Afraid of the Dark.”

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Bassist Doherty contributes three tracks to the album: the laid-back “Happy Days,” the high-energy dance number “DNA,” and the tropical-flavored “Always Gives Me More,” which may leave you craving a pina colada. Padraig Stevens also leaves his mark on the album, contributing one song, “Still the Only One.” This track features beautiful harmonies from the rest of the band.

The bottom line? There isn’t a weak song on the album, so if you’re already a fan, it’ll earn a permanent place in your CD changer. If you’re not a fan yet, this will probably convert you. Doctors are in.

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