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April 2017

Irish indie ensemble Penrose has its roots in a two person act originally started by musician Darragh McGrane in 2015. The line-up has gradually expanded to a five piece ensemble in 2015 and their pedigree is quickly developing with the band supporting the likes of Aslan, Jack L, The Original Rude Boys, and Paddy Casey on the vibrant Irish live scene…each performance well lauded by those media present at the gigs.

Penrose can now be described as a solid Indie Pop band with catchy uplifting inide songs and anthems that have “attitude” and stick in your head. Mixing the pop sensibilities& harmonies of The Beatles / ELO, the snarling vocals of Richard Ashcroft and the rhythmic acoustic guitars of Oasis, Penrose are a truly powerful force…live and on record. The guys are ready to make their mark on the international music scene.

The line-up sees Caolan Fitzsimons (lead guitar), Mark Bolger (bass), Benji Hayes (Keys) and drummer Donal Bowens complementing McGrane’s lead vocals and guitar. The band successfully unveiled their debut EP “Live for the Dream” which charted at NO.3 in the Irish charts to a sell-out house of fans & media at The Grand Social July, 25th 2015. The Band then released there critically acclaimed single MELODY which charted at No. 10 in the Irish charts and was picked up by all Irish national radio stations such as Today FM, FM 104 and RTE, with TV appearances to on RTE’s TwoTube, the band then followed this up with yet another sell out show to their home fans in Dublin’s own Academy 2 venue. Having just released another single SIGN ON in MAY with a string of summer dates in the UK and Ireland Penrose were invited back to the UK by Alan Mc Gee to play gigs as part of the Musicians against Homelessness campaign. The lads were asked to support one of their main influences Aslan as part of the Made in Dublin Revisited gigs that took place in Vicar Street last Dec. With a 2nd EP and a debut Album to follow 2017 looks to be a big exciting year for the band.

DublinConcerts.ie – star rating 8/10

Dublin’s Penrose have been on the go since 2013, originally as an acoustic duo but now fleshed out as a quartet. Often found at the Retro Revival shows in Sweeney’s Bar, alongside garage rockers The Urges, and fellow mods Gangs, they’ve a penchant for smart threads and smarter tunes. Live For The Dream is their debut release consisting of four tracks that follow a classic English pop path once faithfully walked by The Kinks, The La’s and Oasis.

‘See You Again’, the opening track on the EP, is an acoustic-led melancholic number which shimmers along, Darragh McGrane’s warm vocals complimented by rich harmonies. As it builds, it adds strings and some cool “wo-ahs” which thankfully stay the right side of stadium rock. It would make a perfect radio tune if it were about a minute shorter. Still, it’s a confident opening number.

‘Melody’ opens with a strange sample (that reminds me worryingly of the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) before jumping into a glam rock stomp. The staccato down-strummed guitar and tempo has echoes of ‘Digsy’s Dinner’ and it’s a smart upbeat song which has memorable hooks all the way through. Single written all over it.

Third track ‘Harmony’ is a mid-pacer, with clever use of piano and strings, which again brings to mind Oasis as it climaxes with a guitar solo Noel would be chuffed with. “We will be in harmony” sings McGrane, and he’s not wrong as once more it’s those gorgeous harmonies and vocals which come to the fore, alongside a memorable bridge which is almost as catchy as the chorus – not an easy trick to pull off.

‘Where You Go Now’ is for me, the weakest track on the EP, starting slowly but unfortunately failing to build from there. The tempo is downbeat and the key changes fairly uninspiring. You don’t hear the same hooks you hear in the previous three songs. It tries to redeem itself with a gushing sea of effects as it ends but in truth, this seems contrived and out of kilter with the rest of the EP. Penrose don’t need to resort to such tactics – phrasing, musicianship and all round tunesmithery are this band’s strengths.

Overall, a strong debut release from a band who’ve honed their songwriting on the live circuit, resulting in four songs here that sound polished but not over-produced. It could probably have benefitted from one more faster paced number if only to add variety and balance. More importantly, it’s a timely release with a hazy, summery feel, and Penrose will undoubtedly please many gig-goers on this season’s festival circuit. You can catch them at Dublin’s Grand Social on 25 July.



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