When Stomptown Brass second line paraded down South Richmond Street after their set at Canalaphonic, it was a moment. Not as seminal, say, as Danny Barker’s town-stopping funeral in New Orleans in ’94; but, it was certainly a moment within it’s own landscape.
It certainly did force Dublin’s traffic to its own funeral of movement, while also forcing the idea of what an urban-funk brass band is, and can be. A transportable, concrete party, borne out of little, and Ireland was slowly but undoubtedly waking up to it.
The music, developed through the marriage of 1800’s European military band sounds and African rhythms down in ‘N’awlins’, is gaining traction in the local scene all the time. And why wouldn’t it?
It is utter celebration and memorial. Life can be validated and momentarily understood among the brash and rude, hot notes brass players can breath into life at full tilt.
Stomptown Brass then, release ‘Locomotive,’ their debut E.P.. at the tail-end of a considerable first year of existence, having swung through many, many parties (Electric Picnic, Vicar Street, Longitude, Indipendence to name a few).
Their’s, is undoubtedly a world of live performance; you experience their sound and the resultant fervour of shared, communal spirit. So, it was always going to be a tricky ask to put down for posterity, a fair calling card of their musical heft.
The result is admirable, though.
Title track, ‘Locomotive,’ is an aggressive bark to announce them, at times reminiscent of the dark and lean, dissonant brass used sparingly by Foals on their debut, Antidotes. It seems a little bit overcooked for a studio recording; a bit more economy would have done nothing but compliment it’s stronger parts. As an example of potential live presence and atmosphere though, it just about works.
More assured and taut then, is the E.P.’s single, ‘My Duchess has a Heart of Gold.’ It’s call and response motif, draws up the playful nature of the music, and the sound of being in the coolest gang in town.
The lyrics are irreverent fun,
“…I don’t have no money, just a can of gold…
I don’t know where I’ll be in an hours time…
Give me some of that crack-cocaine…”.
‘Fury’ is exactly the sound you think a brass band should make. It is a gem that sparkles with confidence and muscularity. Their final track, a funeral march swing adaptation of Brendan Behan’s ‘Auld Triangle,’ is a glorious example of a young Dublin band nodding at two parallel histories, and getting good vibes back from both.
Not shy of tradition, and most definitely not scared of it either, this E.P. announces Stomptown Brass as a brass band to get behind.
Waiting for that next second line.