THE world is jammed with stuff. Everywhere we turn there are more things crammed in front of our faces. Stuff we don’t need and usually stuff we don’t want. Facebook for instance, is not only a social networking site, it is also a one stop online marketing tool.
There are so many bands, actors, comedians, sketch crews, rappers, mimes, designers and artists looking for just a second of your time that in the end we have time for pretty much no one. Music has been democratized to such an extent that everyone is now possibly a star thus demeaning what stardom actually is.
With all the competition for our attention we often miss what’s right on our doorstep. At the moment in Kildare we have a pretty thriving music scene. Groups like Miracle Bell, Funzo and Carosel have been bothering major festivals and radio playlists for some time now while a recent gig by Naas local Sive caused her support act on the night to insist they were giving up music because they simply could not compete with a singer of that quality. Ok, so yes some bands are pretty awful but many more deserve the attention of a nation hooked on a diet of reality TV and YouTube.
The P Affection, as represented principally by Naas local Padraig McCauley, are one such band who really warrant a wider audience. The group launched their eponymous debut album in the Late Lounge, Kill on February 5, and are seemingly built on shifting sand. Their engineer was a former percussionist in the band while members and instruments have come and went with McCauley being the one constant. These are his songs, varied and driven and often quite catchy.
The album was recorded in Sallins in the home of group engineer David Ganter –“an absolute recording wizard” according to Padraig. With McCauley producing it was then mixed and mastered by the group themselves. A proper DIY job.
And that is the point, we are all capable of doing this sort of thing. Once we learn to sing and/or play an instrument of course. Although that didn’t stop Jordan. We put a premium on a big name producer to remix good songs into, generally, inferior songs. People like Mark Ronson and Will.i.am are incredibly wealthy doing things people can mess about with in their home for nothing, only a lucky minority get to make much money out of it.
As a result, while everyone can be famous less and less musicians are rich. There’s just not enough to go around. The P Affection are not in it for financial reasons, their goals are much more artistically honest.
“I treated the album as an introduction to the band,” says McCauley.
“We’re not trying to make money here, we just want to play some really good gigs and find more fans rather than try to force money out of people which just doesn’t work these days with downloading being so prominent.”
McCauley started writing songs about the age of 13 when as he puts he “began to take music seriously.” His inspirations at the time stemmed from The Strokes (the first album he bought was This Is It) to the Frames and The Waterboys. All these influences are certainly present on their debut. From the violin led Celtic flavours of “The Flood” to the indie dance of “Almost In Greece”. It is an album laced with promise.
Which is another thing, because of our vast array of choice we expect everything to be flawless. We don’t want the rough draft we want the finished article. Bands are no longer given the scope for development before being cast aside for the next NME sponsored favourite. Artists must conform to a certain strict criteria of what is currently considered popular to make it in the most dominant media.
McCauley, currently studying the finer points of jazz in Waterford, is not one to aspire to the stultifying restrictions of many contemporary music fans, instead deciding to embrace the idea of improvising on the night.
“With jazz there’s always an element of improvisation and I try to a bring an element of that to our gigs. I mess around with vocal melody a lot when we’re playing live. Every performance is going be different.“
Initially the band were more a solo vehicle for McCauley but have developed into a pretty flexible democratic outfit, something the singer is quite content with.
“Its definitely a group effort now, everyone is throwing their own ideas into how it should sound. It’s definitely a better vibe than how it used to be.”
After the current tour which brings them back to Kill on February 26, supporting Creamy Goodness, the band will then take a break and perhaps launch another EP in the summer, with McCauley joking they are “sick of the sight of each other and sick of the songs”
The bandleader honed his songwriting skills in previous group Shoot Absolute where during his musical apprenticeship he learned how to structure a song. Rarely today does a writer come of age in quiet solitude as we are exposed to their every knock and failure on the net, an online profile being essential to make a name for yourself a profile which must be satiated and updated constantly regardless of the quality of the material. McCauley has bided his time well.
The P Affection’s debut album is uplifting, often thrilling and filled with some tightly arranged pop gems. It is not perfect but has more than enough promise to demonstrate that one day they might be and for that we should embrace them today.
Padraig McCauley and the P Affection’s debut album can be downloaded for free from the thepaffection.bandcamp.com or from the group’s webiste thepaffection.com.