Galway Advertiser - October 22 1998
The Mary Janes "Sham"
The Mary Janes played a stormer of a gig in Galway recently, promoting their new album Sham, so I decided to have a listen to see if their recorded material is as good as their live show.
The album kicks off with "Sham", and to my relief it's as good on CD as it is on stage. Vocalist Mic Christopher sounds remarkably like Eddie Vedder, crunching away at the catchy chorus backed by a chunky sound. Although the album is prominently powerful in its own way, there are a number of gentler and uplifting tunes which give the album real character. Check out "Wine Song" and "Queen of Hearts" for examples of this.
Recorded on both sides of the water, three of the tracks were laid down in Scotland with the production expertise of Robin Evans, who has worked with the Manic Street Preachers in the past. The rest of the album was completed in Dublin.
A blend of rock, folk, and hip hop; this second offering from the Mary Janes is as hard as it is mellow. Originally being drawn to this album from their stage show, which is usually a better sign than recorded material, this album stands its ground and is definitely worth its salt.
(Loza Records @ £12.99)
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
- Keith Barrett
Galway Advertiser review - October 22 1998
Get Behind The Sofas
"THERE ARE no two ways about it, Galway has to be one of the better gigging venues this side of the country. To emphasise this fact, Galwegians were treated to two consecutive nights' entertainment at the hands of the Mary Janes and the Sofas."
"Firstly, the Mary Janes. Here's a band not unknown to Galway, having played a number of gigs in the city over the past number of months. This was, however, my first time to see them.
They played Cuba*Live last Thursday, and I hooked up with them on Wednesday night to have a quick word. Rather inebriated when I met them in the Drum bar, they took me in their van on a rollercoaster tour of Galway hostels in an attempt to find them a place to lay their heads that night. Due to play Galway Bay FM at 8.15pm, as they amped their equipment they were still without beds. Not deterred, they stuck around until the following night to play one of the best gigs I've seen in a rather long time.
To be honest, I hadn't heard a lot of their material before the gig, so I had a very open mind about the whole event. They took to the stage, and right from the very first track I was hooked. Combining elements from Pearl Jam, Skunk Anansie and a whole host of other influences from hip hop to folk, they absolutely blew me away. Their new album, Sham, is out now. A must for any fan of good music."
"And according to drummer Mark Stanley, they plan to play Galway again before Christmas. Oh, what fun we'll have."
- Keith Barrett
Hot Press - November 16 1994
Here, Hot Press profiles some of the home grown artists who've launched new releases in time for the Christmas market. The Mary Janes
The Mary Janes eat, sleep, drink but mostly play music. In the eighteen months since they got together they have played over 300 gigs in every corner, crevice and bog-hole of this country. What is more, The Mary Janes love music in an unadulterated, simple and innocent fashion. It’s not something they want to be seen with, to wear and look cool in, or to drop the name of in hip and fancy places; no, it’s something they genuinely love.
Drummerless, The Mary Janes are three: Mic on vocals and acoustic guitar, Simon on guitars, and Karl on bass. They are not a folk group. Their debut album, Bored Of Their Laughing, exhibits a type of music which is sign-posted by Mic’s charged, expansive and almost freeform singing, rhythms which bound along like they are riding down a mountain stream, and as electric lead flourishes from Simon which stalk and attack.
The Mary Janes are fans of dance music, though they obviously prefer the unique sense of occasion which a live gig can create. They tend to surprise first-time punters by the fact that they are neither quite rock nor folk. Simon: “Half the time these people stand there and they’re watching. And they listen for drums. They come up to us after and say, ‘Oh, I could hear drums in this part.’ But that’s because you’re listening for it. You refuse to accept that it’s something new, something different.”
Lyrically, The Mary Janes are a bit of a journey down the rainbow of (sub)consciousness. Occasionally, sparkling and lucid lines like, “And waking up in cages/No bigger than my thumb,” will appear in the flux, but generally it is a race across uncharted wordscapes such as: “Hey left with pink I’m dead/Oh give me green instead/To keep the fullness of my eyes/Watched by the baron cross.”
Mic readily agrees that his song-writing is not carried out like some A-to-B process. “I might write a song,” he explains, “ and three months later I’ll be onstage singing it and I’ll go: ‘Oh, that’s what that’s about’.” He mentions Liz Frazer from the Cocteau Twins as an influence. “I always found what she does amazing,” he says. “Because she doesn’t actually use words, or she uses her own words. I always have a real thing about that.”
Listening to Bored Of Their Laughing, I can hear a similar exploration of the word, as Mic tests and stretches it, spreading his voice between its roots. It’s a highly emotional, even spiritual album. It comes from a group who are evolving, exploring, learning as they go.
As Simon puts it: “Definitely the most important thing about us is that we haven’t contrived any of this at all. We work hard at it. We work really hard. Late nights all the time, like. Gigs round the country. Everything. And when we play gigs it is always as good as we can get it. But definitely we haven’t planned any of it, not at all . . . It’s playing music. See, it’s more the music. It’s what I feel most comfortable doing, and what I have to do. The one thing I truly believe in is that I have to do this.”
The Mary Janes' second album Sham is a great Irish rock album. Fronted by the late Mic Christopher it is an album which helps show where that great solo album came from.
This is a rockier offering than either the solo Skylarkin' (including Heyday) or the first Mary Janes' album, Bored Of Their Laughing with Mark Stanley's drums taking a stronger place on the record (there being none on Bored!). The swirling guitars of Simon Goode are still present as is the driving bass from Karl Odlum, but it's the Christopher's lyrics and their deliver which really make this a worthwhile purchase. From the beautiful Queen Of Hearts, to the anthemic Friends the lyrics are imbued with poetry at every turn.
Buy it, turn it up loud and enjoy!
Hot Press: “Bored Of Their Laughing”
(Hunter S. Records)
Clocking in at around sixty-one minutes, Bored Of Their Laughing should be value for money but unfortunately it often sounds merely self-indulgent and ends up being more of an endurance test than the wonderfully bewitching journey of soundscapes you’d hoped for.
Taken in isolation each tune sounds reasonably strong. The passion of ‘Friends’ is quite intense in its own way while ‘Diamonds’ is about as light as it gets on these twelve angst-ridden and tormentedly-driven numbers. The problem is, however, that when all the songs come back to back, they just sound too much like one another. Compounding this is the way in which every line of every tune gets the same agonised treatment, no matter what the subject matter.
B.O.T.L. is by no means a stinker of an album. Quite clearly The Mary Janes have potential but they’ve a long way to go before they produce music that’s capable of capturing the imagination. They should be wary of using that word ‘bored’ too freely.
Patrick Brennan, November 2 1994