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CMJ Music Marathon 2008 Day 3: Giveamanakick

Words by Vijith Assar

Being that I'm a cynical ass and this here is a "Music From Ireland” showcase, for a brief moment I fully expected that I'd be starting this recap with a joke about potatoes, or maybe car bombs (the drink), or Lucky Charms, or car bombs (the unconscionable acts of Euro-terrorism), or the pompousness of Bono, or… well, gosh, the possibilities are endless!

So much for that plan: Giveamanakick deserve to be taken seriously. The diagonal engine-revving of the opening guitar riff caught me in the throat as soon as I walked in, and the next forty minutes were positively unrelenting. Train-wreck-in-a-box vocals, Tom Morello vertical contours, guttural kick drum rolls, and, at one point, a power chord juxtaposed against a droning high E string which were positively transcendent together, especially in this particular context.

See, the depth of arrangement was stunning for a duo, but at the same time, with just two grumbling Irishmen on stage, it was almost like a minimalist reduction of punk -- the genuinely aggressive kind, not just the regional-flavor Dropkick Murphy thing. That's still an oversimplification, though: It was too jagged and prog-rock and stuttering and, well, too admirable and difficult. I've met a fair number of punk rock kids over the years, and they generally can't do anything remotely like this because they just don't practice enough. It's not actually loose and reckless -- you just have to make it look that way.

Having discovered these guys, CMJ suddenly makes sense again. The sheer number of shows and the alarming who-the-hell-is-that ratio can be pretty intimidating, and sometimes enough to overcome even the most meticulous of logistical organization attempts. But all across the city, new under-appreciated treasures are popping up in front of music lovers as if in a game of rock-and-roll Whack-A-Mole. Eat that, Guitar Hero. I stumbled upon this accidentally, instead expecting the Autodrone set that's going down a couple blocks away, but it's far and away the best thing I've seen this week so far. I've been drinking sponsored-by-Red-Bulls for days, but come tomorrow morning I'll finally be re-energized for real.

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