Irish immigrants Colm Donnelly and Liam Mulholland met in Vancouver, Canada, back in 2018 and began doing covers together as 'mop and beard' playing pubs in downtown. Soon they began to throw around a few originals from Donnelly onto their set and Mulholland began writing as well. This eventually led to a partnership in writing music together, Eventually the pair added Jory Fernstrom on bass and Craig Hahessy on drums. Bute Street's debut EP Superficial Times was released in 2018 and was followed up by 2019's Sunny Days, Hazy Nights. Bute Street’s third release entitled Eclectic Taste is their first full-length album.
It was produced and mixed by Dan Ponich of Park Sound Studios and mastered by Stuart McKillop from Rain City Recordings. The album is a massive step up in quality to the band’s previous EPs, but the group sees those early EPs as valuable learning curves. The album was given its title because of the knowing, self-deprecating line from the song “Murder Wonderwall” but it was also chosen as the title because the band felt it summed up the album. The album is a mixed bag with influences from early rock n’ roll to 70s punk, to 90s Brit pop and even American and Irish folk. The band remarks the album has energy, humor, wit and catchiness and they have been told that some songs sound retro but, they’re ok with that.
The opening “Instant Gratification” is direct in its lyrics and edgy with its dark, raw moodiness – something between Oasis and The Stone Roses. “Gonna Get Shot” has got a fantastic drum/guitar intro and a danceable/punk vibe going on – this was a fun song to listen to. Next up is “Murder Wonderwall” and I wonder if this is tip of the hat to Oasis’ massive hit. Anyway, apart from sounds of ‘90s Brit pop, I was also hearing The Kinks and perhaps a little Donovan on this one. “Step Up” is a song about getting back in touch with your baby again, as in, your child. It’s a short and sweet tune with vocal, acoustic and little keys added. “Quarantine Blues” is what you might expect it would be about. Lyrically, this one’s quite humorous – “Just to let the children know / Daddy’s buried in the patio / Because mamma went loco.” It also has great classic rock n’ roll appeal. “Monday Morning” features a funked-up drumbeat, low bass line and lots of “screw the man/anti-social” rock n’ roll attitude. On the chorus part the band switches into a faster punk beat, giving this tune a lot of fun energy. “Bright Lights” offers listeners a taste of traditional folk Irish music. Fans of The Pogues, The Dubliners and Flogging Molly should like this tune. “B.O.T.S.” has an alt-indie rock sound, meshing pop punk, alternative and pop. This tune reminded me so much of The Replacements, with its sentimental charm and pop melody, so of course being from Minnesota, this track was a favorite.
Moving onto “Hairline” is a song just about that – a hairline – but one that is receding. A sure sign that as the lyrics put it – “time is slowly creeping in.” Aside from any humor, the band gets serious – “Does anybody know what to do in their own show / They say the grass is greener, but I don’t know how it grows.” Yep, that about sums it up. Musically, the band’s style is pure, straightforward rock n’ roll. I would say a mix of Rolling Stones, early Alice Cooper, Lou Reed and Iggy Pop. The band changes tempo and rocks out harder about midway, which made for a dynamic, energized song. On a quieter note, “Depending on You” features acoustic, mellow bass tones, piano and beautiful singing. The lyrics are so tender and real and plays tribute to the women with whom “I couldn’t live my life alone” because “I’m depending on you.” “Love is Cruel” has got a great rocking beat and features catchy guitar hooks. This one reminds me of so many bands and was enjoyable to listen to. “Keep Us Fighting” is a good example of an old-fashioned protest song. Stylistically, this tune reminded me of some of the bands from the ‘60s that wrote protest songs, Buffalo Springfield comes to mind. But musically, the band sounds more like The Clash or other bands from late ‘70s/early ‘80s who were known for their nostalgic early rock n’ roll vibe.
“Karma’s Revenge” gives the listener another example of Irish folk music. Donnelly and Mulholland’s vocal harmonies are fantastic here! The gorgeous violins, the thumping bass drum all add to the sadness of the lyrics, telling a tale of unrequited love – “a ship in the night that had to sail.” One of the longer songs featured on the album is “Tomcat.” This one features harmonica and a steady rock beat. Lyrically, the words remind the songwriter that he’s always been a tomcat – “drawn to the darker shades of life.” The last tune opens with the sound of cracking open a cold one and someone sipping a drink down. “Beer, Gear and Atmosphere” is a fun, and funny sing-along number. The band claims “the meaning of life so unclear” so I might as well “say cheers with my peers.” Don’t worry about Monday, “don’t be blue like Poppa Smurf” rather “make some memories that have some worth” and “appreciate the time you spend” – because “we don’t have much time on this earth.” Sounds like a drinking song I can get behind.
All things considered, Bute Street’s Eclectic Taste offers a taste of just about everything – new rock, old rock, a little punk and a little Irish folk. I was hearing a lot of influences – Iggy and the Stooges, Misfits, George Thorogood and The Destroyers, just to name a few. Sounds pretty eclectic to me so take a listen.
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