The Lobby Bar profile
The Plague Monkeys rule.......... is not the sort of headline one expects to find on a Press Release from this most unassuming of bands. It is however, the type of sentiment which is being expressed with increasingly regularity, here and abroad.
The Plague Monkeys have of course had their champions in the Irish Media, (notably No Disco, 2TV, Hot Press, Donal Dineen), but as they prepare for the imminent release of their debut album, 'Surface Tension' is seems interest in this singular band has never been higher. 'Surface Tension' was recorded over the past year in Dublin. Singer Carol Keogh's voice has been described as 'one of the most beautiful sound ever to come out of Ireland' and it's evocative tones and crystalline melodies will probably be the first thing to impress. But gradually, as you listen through the album, the band's original songwriting style, eloquent musicianship together with the poetic lyrics will leave you captivated.
Comparisons are odious but for some of reference try 'A New Wave Fleetwood Mac' or how about 'Joni Mitchell jamming on the Arctic permafrost with The Velvet Underground'!
Hot Press - "The Sunburn Index" October 27 1999
BEWARE A rush to judgement on any Plague Monkeys recording – here be sleepers. Last year’s debut Surface Tension pleasantly perturbed this candidate on the first to fourth helpings, but by the dozenth dose I was figuring it for a minor classic. Even now, it still yields sheathed details, peculiar possibilities.
So, your reporter approached The Sunburn Index with both relish and caution, although any fears of the quartet grafting a big ugly fuck-off backbeat or radio-friendly sheen onto the sound are almost instantly dispelled – all loops remain self-generated, all samples plucked from their own manuscripts rather than public libraries.
Again, it’s the invisible ink encoded in the sound that works its way into the listener’s bloodstream, tattooing the brain many hours later. And, as you may have deduced from the titles, the lyrics continue to probe the sciences, and indeed the virus of language itself (“What Americans call ‘closure’”) in the quest for a dialect new to rock ’n’ roll.
The band’s vocal point is of course Carol Keogh, a spellbinding warbler who has inherited Mary Margaret O’Hara and the Buckleys’ knack of springing words loose from meaning. Throughout this collection, Keogh performs all manner of tonsil somersaults while remaining firmly integrated into a band who know just how tightly to boa-constrict her throat. Donal O’Mahony is particularly adept at framing the melodies with a succession of electric/acoustic backdrops (indeed, he gets downright industrial during the penny-dreadful peekshow of ‘Over’), while on ‘Sea Change (Part 2)’ Barry Roden and Thomas Haugh – surely one of the more underrated and imaginative rhythm sections in the parish – shape-shift like salamanders, performing acts of enviable sonic contortion.
I have one or two faint misgivings – considering the magic these Monkeys are capable of working with conventional song structure (‘Bloomsday’) one sometimes gets frustrated by their adherence to initially opaque surfaces. In other words, I don’t hear a single. And occasionally there are hints of late 80s student ghetto-ism – Throwing Muses, The Cocteau Twins et al – which you suspect mask a latent ability to get as crossed-over as Bjork or Kate Bush.
But then again, they’re also chasing some pretty spectacular comets, particularly the geisha shapes of ‘Polar Magnets Parts 1 & 2’, the monolithic ‘Sea Change’ and the darkly charming ‘Last Bus’.
So, to sum up, The Sunburn Index is the confident second stage in a fluent evolution. And even the pyramids were built in incremental steps.
wiltweb.co.uk - Surface Tension
We'll forgive them for the fact that the title of the album sounds like a bad crime mystery novel. The Plague Monkeys are, according to their press release, committed to 'the altogether more challenging task of bringing new elements to the periodic table'. Listeners to 'The Sunburn index' would find this hard to deny. The Plague Monkeys fuse a range of styles, influences and musical instruments to a degree that is both rare and unique. The all round effect is an originally introspective album that reaches that bit deeper into you, relative to the rest of the fortnight's releases. And The Plague Monkeys are true to their word on their mission to make timeless music. They're pushing that bit further to do something special. From the psychotic rattling moodiness of 'The Bomb Circle' (with lyrics inspired by Iain Banks' gruesome The Wasp Factory (enough said)) to the more upbeat, although equally intense 'Doppler Effect', which brings Afro Celt Sound System's better moments to mind, they display innovation and diversity without ever losing their own distinct sound. Carol Keogh's high-pitched soft lilting seems influenced by 4AD stalwarts such as Liz Fraser and Throwing Muses. Guitars are similar to Mogwai, cellos are used well; all over a laidback Bristol rhythm. The real achievement is that the fusion of these individuals' musical tastes actually works.
So is this the complete article? Somehow, no. Despite all the good points, it doesn't quite grab you. For want of a better word, the album just lacks that final gloss. The fault lies in the production, or more particularly the fact that it's self-produced. With so much going on inside each tune, it needs someone from outside those who actually made the album, and probably someone with more experience, to blend those styles into the wholly cohesive piece of art that The Plague Monkeys strive to make. All in all though it is a very good and mature album. One gets the impression that The Plague Monkeys are getting somewhere, and are constantly learning and stretching themselves to make a type of music that hasn't been made. Nowhere is the intensity of their self-belief more evident than the brilliantly dark mantra-like closing track, 'Holy Smoke'. The Plague Monkeys could be something really special.
Leonard's Lair - "Surface Tension"
It was inevitable that when this album was released that the Plague Monkeys would receive a critical panning for copying the Cocteau Twins' sound. Carol Keogh's vocals are extremely similar to Liz Fraser's although the multi-layered vocal effects used on the Cocteau's records are not concentrated on here. The actual songs are perhaps most redolent of The Sundays because they are far more stripped of technology. First track, 'Safe' is mournful and 'Breaking The Ice' and 'Surfacing' are more sinister and intense. It is right to say that The Plague Monkeys need to develop more of an identity but their influences are worthy and even at the worse times (of which there are thankfully few) this at least sounds like respectful plagiarism. 3/5
Amazon.com "Surface Tension" - May 2001
To paraphrase another Plague Monkeys track "Gyroscope", from the lovely Navigator EP, the devil is indeed in the details. The devil of a tune, that is. Never mind those lazy, dismissive Cocteau's comparisons, the Monkeys are an altogether more tangible experience. Yes, there are echoes of the wonderful Twins, as on the lead video track "White Feathers" has an addictive "Sugar Hiccup" quality. "Jack" and "Cobweb Theory" recall Victorialand-era simplicity, whilst "Dreaming in Hotels" is a virtual Seefeel remix. All utterly gorgeous of course, but not mere copies. The main reason they conjure up these crystal-cut gems is mainly due to Carol Keogh's breathtaking vocals, although the band can certainly harness a sonic cathedral or two when the devil takes them. However, there are several more reasons to make this an essential purchase. "Surfacing" is the record's epic centrepiece, all undulating moodiness before bubbling to a crescendo, like waves crashed on rocks. "Breaking the Ice" begins with the wonderful couplet, "In the northern sky; studying arouras.", then tells of a polar expedition ("a plain white topograph") in a simple, elegant prose poem, charting "differentials in the shifting surface layers" and "glyphs and graphs". Wonderful stuff. Carol frequently out-does herself in the esoteric lyric stakes and the weather/elements axis is a strong thematic bond throughout "Surface Tension"; "Last Watch" is even dedicated to "the last light keepers". Nature and nurture. Observation and control. Science and poetry.
Top Magazine - September 1999
"A plague of Cocteau monkeys"
"Very few things in life are truly unique. Everything appears, on the surface at least, to be a rip-off of something else. And so effectively we live in a world of copyists. For instance: Pepsi is like Coke, but not quite as ... as brown, as caffeine-y. Eastbourne is like Brighton, only older, and shite. And Bjorn Again are like Abba, but then this of course is entirely intentional. THE PLAGUE MONKEYS, meanwhile, are like COCTEAU TWINS. This, again, is entirely intentional, although ask them to name their biggest influence, and they'll claim it's Velvet Underground. Haw, haw. A four-piece from Dublin, The Plague Monkeys are about to release their debut album, Surface Tension (Crosstown Music)***.
Herein are songs that can only be described as ethereal, and whose individual
titles - 'White Feathers', 'Thirty Times Three', 'Bloomsday' - as distinctly
otherworldly. And strangely familiar. In fact, they sound so much like Cocteau
Twins circa Iceblink Luck that it's not even funny. Singer Carol Keogh is Liz
Frazer in all but name, and if track three, 'Jack', doesn't sound to you like it
was lifted wholesale from their mentors' 1996 album Milk & Kisses, then,
frankly, you've got waxy eardruff druff. It's a nice album, sure, very pretty,
and full of pink petals, but you do have to wonder at the cheek of band who
attempts this kind of blatant thievery when it's all already out there, already
done, already history. Not least when the Cocteau Twins themselves have an album
of radio sessions released in the same month BBC Sessions (Bella Union)****
spans the years 1982-1996, and so starts off as deliciously spiky - punk in
purple velvet - with tracks like 'Garlands' and the vituperative 'Alas Dies
Laughing', which sounds like it could impale any Goth band who ever lived
without even really trying. 'From The Flagstones' is still one of the most
magical pieces of music ever to grace the '80s, and 'Sugar Hiccup', for its
title alone, sparkles like a child's dream. 'Half-Gifts', meanwhile, is what
heaven would sound like if it existed. For an insight into what The Plague
Monkeys' second album is going to be like, revisit these songs here, in their
original form, thereby removing any form of anticipation whatsoever.
Zeitgeist - "Surface Tension" June 23 1998
The songs on 'The Plague Monkey's' debut album have such an ethereal, individual power that just doesn't happen by accident. Each element in the music never overstates itself and that is probably their greatest asset. Put all these elements together and it becomes evident that the songs are more than the sum of their parts - a rare gift that comes about thru' years of playing. Comparisons are odious but for some sort of reference try, 'Joni Mitchell' jamming on the Arctic Permafrost with the Velvet Underground.
Singer Carol Keogh's vocal lines become part of the music, she is a song-writer in the truest sense of the word, and her thoughtful melodies remind one of the way Morrissey could transform a simple lyric by way of emphasis and unusual placement. A rare gift these days. The band play 2 dates in Cork late in June, one as part of the weekender.
Sorted magAZine - "Surface Tension"
["Surface Tension is the debut offering from Irish band The Plague
Monkeys. The CD cover sums the music up perfectly, minimalist. It is
beautifully pieced together but it doesn't say very much. The lyrics for
only one song are printed, probably because it looked better. Design
over content I think they call it.
Every note, every chord on this album seems to have been placed where it is for a specific reason. But, ultimately, the album fails to grab the attention of the listener, opting instead to fade into the background, only to be noticed again two hours later (if you have your player set to repeat) when it starts to become annoying.
This is a shame, as the band do have a lot of potential, glimpses of which can be seen on songs like 'Breaking the Ice' and 'Surfacing'. These are the only songs on the entire album that made me actually sit up and listen. Even lead singer Carol Keogh's ethereal voice can't save this album from it's position of mediocrity."
"No Disco" Track Of The Week, October 6 1999
Just one minute and forty one seconds and then you'll want to hear it again.
Yes, well, long time favorites of us here in "nodiscoland" The Plague Monkeys are back with this new video and a brand spanking new album.
Carol Keogh's confidence has grown (she play's the bicycle horn now) and her vocals are more engaging now than ever before.
This is the opening track on "The Sunburn Index" produced by Donal O'Mahony and the rest of the band it may not be a massive departure from what's gone before but it should establish them and give them some decent exposure.
Low Fi ideals with Hi Fi sounds... "Welcome back from Leeside The Plague Monkeys" as Cork Hurling Captain Mark Landers might say "We've missed you a lot".
WOW Magazine - "The Sunburn Index" October 1999
Having hot-wired cynics' hearts with their debut LP, Surface Tension, the dreamers of the dream return with more secrets to share. Kicking off with the bittersweet twang of the journey to wherever on Last Bus ("I'll do the same thing...tomorrow"), The Sunburn Index is their low-key take on the lie- ins and stay-outs of relationships. Shifting away from the guitars of its predecessor into more orchestral territory, the likes of Rogue Gene and Doppler Effect leave you wondering where vocals begin and music ends. And with a sound as complex as the emotions that inspired it, their knack lies in leaving well enough alone and providing the space to look back over your shoulder. It takes its time, but it will leave you breathless. The next one should leave you speechless.
Harry Guerin 10/99
Sorted magAZine - October 1999
Review for "The Sunburn Index"
Vicar Street, Dublin - Saturday October 9 1999
Maybe I'm getting old, but I like a bit of comfort. No longer does the idea of standing in the Point surrounded by thousands of others screaming at some over-produced band, who are so far up their own arses they don't even know you're there, appeal to me. Vicar St., still a relatively new venue, offered the perfect backdrop to a gig of such passion, enthusiasm and above all, sheer talent. Complete with cute little tables, squishy swivel seats (ooohhh!) and intimate candle lighting, it's easy to see why an artist such as Christy Moore has decided to only play gigs like this for the moment. Supporting act David Kitt displayed a lot of promise. It's difficult not to draw parallels with the acoustic greats like Dylan and Cohen when listening to this charismatic newcomer. With only guitar and drum machine/synth, Kitt was good, but on the final song, 'One More Hour(?)' where he used a backing track he had prepared earlier, the fuller sound worked to his credit.
The Plague Monkeys are one of those bands who really have to be seen live to be believed. This gig marked the release of their second album, "The Sunburn Index", a more upbeat follow-up to their debut "Surfacing The Tension". An unassuming presence, the band take to the stage and perform a set which stimulates every nerve ending in the body - just to make sure they're still working. Much has been said of Carol Keogh's amazing voice. It truly is breathtaking - airy and haunting, soft and vulnerable, intense and frightening. Or as my boyfriend put it "That chick really wails". Nowhere is this more evident than on 'Over', where Keogh's voice alternatively draws us in and then pierces the air into tiny fragments.
Other impressive moments from the new album include the delicately sublime 'Sea Change', the uplifting '23C' and the emotive 'Exit' and 'Holy Smoke' after which the normally-so-subtle Keogh gives the finger to someone in the audience with a mobile phone. A gesture personified within the technology resentful 'Last Bus' "I have had enough of this/I'm gonna do the same thing tomorrow". The Monkeys also treated us to some welcome oldies such as 'White Feathers' and 'Breaking The Ice'. Included within the set were covers of 'I'm On Fire' - an uncharacteristically loud moment and a charming cover (of something which I haven't identified) with just cello and vocals. You know a band are this good when a) they're on a plain of their own, defying comparison with anything else, b) hairs stand up in places that you didn't know existed and c) Louis Walsh wouldn't look at them twice.
Press Release - October 1999
"The Sunburn Index" released Friday October 8th on Crosstown Music.
THE SECOND COMING Vicar Street - Saturday October 9th.
The Plague Monkeys are the musical incarnation of Abe Lincoln's dictum that one should tread softly, but carry a big stick. Like Paul Auster in prose, or Edward Hopper on canvas, or Wim Wenders in film, they don’t harangue, they haunt, using sound as the medium.
Yet these Monkeys deal in extremes. Not that they rely on bombast - quite the contrary. But from their debut 1995 cassette-only EP People And Machinery right up to the new album The Sunburn Index (released next month on Crosstown Music) this collective have always been extreme in their self-possession and singularity of vision.
In fact, vision is a key word; The Plague Monkeys have always painted soundscapes, utilising the principal elements of Carol Keogh’s heartstopping voice, Thomas Haugh and Barry Roden’s deft rhythms, and Donal O’ Mahony’s impressionistic washes of guitar, occasionally accompanied and enhanced by video clips courtesy of Brian O’ Malley (who lensed ‘Star Country’ off the Navigator EP and ‘White Feather’ from the debut album Surface Tension).
No surprise then, that the band were approached by I Went Down director an award winning playwright Conor McPherson to score his film Saltwater (due to be shown at the San Sebastian Film Festival in mid-September). Some of the results of that soundtrack work, plus demo versions of new material, can be downloaded from the group’s website www.plaguemonkeys.com.
And so, to that second album, which follows hot on the heels of the recent Mouth To Mouth EP. The Sunburn Index is a fiercely turbulent work which remains faithful to but expands on the promise of their debut. Here, the quartet continue to eschew the use of off-the rack samples and designer beats in favour of generating their own loops, stretching their own original canvases. The results vary from the exotic (the kaleidoscopic chimes of ‘Polar Magnets Pt II’) to the symphonic (‘Sea Change’) to the downright industrial (‘Over’).
Some acts pursue music as a career. Others, like My Bloody Valentine or the Velvets or Philip Glass, undertake the altogether more challenging task of bringing new elements to the periodic table. With 1998’s Surface Tension The Plague Monkeys placed themselves squarely in the latter camp, formulating their own ideology, methodology, and - most importantly - identity. Here was a dialect strange to rock ‘n’ roll; blurry sketches of lost map-makers, archaeologists, lighthouse-keepers . . . all manner of threshold-dwellers.
The Sunburn Index continues to investigate those themes, identifying art in the sciences by way of titles like ‘Rogue Gene’ and ‘Doppler Effect’. Fitting then, that Carol Keogh - who sometimes recalls Mary Margaret O’ Hara or Tim Buckley or Liz Fraser in her apparent fascination with the point where language breaks down and pure sound coheres - is a fan of Umberto Eco. It's also fitting that the band have joined forces with the late Jeff Buckley’s manager George Stein.
The Sunburn Index is a remarkably assured second album by a band who carry themselves less like spirit-drinkers than spirit-catchers. Remember Poltergeist? They’re here . . .
The Plague Monkeys will mark the release of The Sunburn Index with a show at Vicar Street on Saturday October 9th.
For more information contact Oliver Walsh, (01) 6761523
The Examiner, December 3 1998
A PLAGUE ON YOUR RECORD COLLECTION
Halfway through the year I singled out Surface Tension from the Plague Monkeys as a potential album of the year. Six months on and I no longer think of it in such limited terms. It is, quite simply, an understated masterpiece. There are scant enough precedents to judge it off, although at the time the influence of the Cocteau Twins was noted but over-estimated. As the album reveals itself in layers it begins to carve a niche of its own, in the psyche. As a Christmas present I cannot recommend Surface Tension more.
The Sunday Tribune, May 10 1998
ALBUM OF THE WEEK
It's difficult being an Irish band at the moment. Dublin's status as the New Manchester (or was it the old Liverpool?) has gone. Hot Press is concerned more with which of its journalists a band knows than how the band sounds, and the NME, Melody Maker and other British rags are so obsessed with their own back yard that they have long since stopped listening to what's going on over here.
It's with these reservations in mind that we nominate Surface Tension as album of the week. By any standards it should easily find a place for itself in the upper reaches of Indie charts and the middle rung of the mainstream Top 40: by current standards, however, we suspect that it won't.
A beautifully played, superbly crafted album, which is dripping with melodies and the type of sudden chord changes that can take your breath away, it also features the sublime voice of Carol Keogh, who does for the Plague Monkeys what Liz Fraser used to do for the Cocteau Twins and Harriet Wheeler for The Sundays.
The comparison with both of those bands, although it might not be welcomed by the Plague Monkeys, is reasonable. They are all accomplished musicians; they all believe in the importance of melody and tune; they maintain the correct balance between voice, guitar, rhythm section, keyboards and whatever other instruments are thrown into the mix; and it's hard to imagine any of them writing a song about the peace process.
There are several standout tracks on Surface Tension, all of which demonstrate the Plague Monkeys to be at the height of their powers. For a band to be so accomplished so early in its career is astounding; let us hope we are wrong to be so pessimistic about their future.
Hot Press, April 1998
A PLAGUE ON ALL YOUR HOUSES
On this début album, The Plague Monkeys swim out into a different ocean kind of playing, seeing and hearing. They emerge from their experimentations with some minor miracles in tow.
Like the albums title indicates The Plague Monkeys toy with the ambiguity between appearances and what might lie behind them. "Surfacing" addresses the notion of different levels of reality. In as much as the disciplined and restrained sound of The Plague Monkeys allows for such a term, it's the word 'epic' to describe the eleven delicately woven melodies. The lyrics ask some hefty existential questions of our conceptions of the supreme being, yet come across subtly and insightful rather than vacuous and silly. That's quite an achievement, managed mostly because of the understated manner of the words. The Plague Monkeys' lyrics are elliptical, highly original, mysterious but without ever coming across as vague for the sake of having nothing to say.
Another of the more impressive songs on initial listening, Breaking The Ice, allows each verse to create it's own distinctive mood and moment. There's space and breadth in the observations through which your imagination can sail.
And, musically, The Plague Monkeys are constantly reinforcing this feeling. The acid test for all music of quietish, vague ilk is the degree to which the listener feels compelled to be drawn into this gentle, off-kilter world. It's crucial that the songs at some level give an insight into their composer's mind. Here, the onus is on vocalist Carol Keogh and she shows enough evidence here (Safe) that she has given us a glimpse of her psyche.
Inevitably, there will be comparisons with the likes of Joni Mitchell in Carol Keogh's vocals; the Cocteau Twins, too, come to mind, as do Portishead (Beth Gibbons' deliberately off-key singing is hinted at in one of the outstanding numbers Thirty Times Three).
Nevertheless, these are only pointers and map references. The Plague Monkeys have marked out their own terrain through some innovative and sensitive songwriting. And Keogh's daunting vocal prowess and presence shows huge potential. Surface Tensions is as good a place as any to rest your weary head.
Patrick Brennan, 9/12
Traffic Flow Magazine, May 8 1998
*Album of the Issue* - Road Records
Début album from this Irish band. This album is full of the most beautiful and haunting songs I have head in a long time. Not since I first heard The Cocteau Twins have I been so moved by someone's voice.
To simplify the whole thing, this band is like a mix between The Cocteau Twins and The Sundays. Believe me this is just a pointer to their sound. This album is much more than just a sound-alike of your favourite band, it's full of original songs and sounds. It's good to see sounds like this are still being made in Ireland.
2FM website, March 1998
Dublin's The Plague Monkeys have again been invited to play New York's' CMJ Festival - they are the first band to be invited back by the organisers.
The musical world inhabited by The Plague Monkeys is the same evocative place that one might find, say a Mazzy Star or Mary Margaret O'Hara. Try to imagine The Velvet Underground jamming with the Cocteau Twins and you begin to get an impression of this group.
Haunting, beautiful vocals, enjoined with shimmering soundscapes and evocative lyrics to create music that inexorably draws the listener in. The Plague Monkeys are special: they have been described on more than one occasion as "a breath of fresh air": the UK media is now beginning to take note as are industry people in the US.
The Plague Monkeys play Paris on March 17th for the 2FM Disney Band Challenge.
DISNEY BAND CHALLENGE - THE FINAL SELECTION
Over 600 acts submitted tapes and videos to the 2FM / 2TV competition. The panel of "experts" which comprised of Dave Berry (2TV), Alan Corr (RTE Guide), Ian Wilson (2FM) and Jim Lockhart (2FM) whittled it down to 15 acts and the Disney people made the final selection which looks like this:
KIERAN KENNEDY, RAIN, HITCHERS, GARRET WALL, LITTLE SISTER SAGE, PLAGUE MONKEYS, WHIRLIGIG
Disney are flying out all the musicians on an all expenses paid unforgettable St. Patrick's Day in Paris. There is also a cash prize of 10,000 francs for the winners of the Battle of the Bands. Bob Conway of "The Best of Irish" will be along covering the trip for 2FM. These live acts will be broadcast at a later date on Bob's and Mike Moloney's Show.
This is the second year of the Disney Band Challenge and it was such a success last year that Disney just had to have more Irish Bands and had to go to 2FM to find the acts.
I first heard them on "No Disco" in 1996 when Donal Dineen, the then presenter, expressed a particular interest in this band's ability to produce soothing sounds that could be interpreted as a fine art. Balance lies in their ability to utilise their vocal and musical talents in such a way that all aspects of the band are present at first glance. The singer's voice is beautiful and Carol Keogh sometimes gets lost in the music, which is lovely to see and captivating to hear. When I first heard "The Plague Monkeys" (the song) I fell in love with this balance that they are so capable of mastering. I have never forgotten that first time that I heard the song and I hope that I never will.
The music is intense though balanced. One can hear the cries in Carol’s voice and feel every pound of that drum skin and shake with every note drawn from the bass and touch the Chords bouncing out of that Crafter Acoustic. The four exploit our own emotions as we seek meaning and comfort in the soft lyrics that are not as audible as they are visible.
The band mean a lot to me personally as they have inspired me, in many ways, to explore different directions in music. I have a tremendous amount of respect and faith in The Plague Monkeys and I feel that they deserve a taste of success. I want to see them when them make it and show me and the rest of the world that if the band got through the past few years of traveling around the country and world then it will survive the next two decades of fame and fortune.
Ciaran Flynn, Galway - January 28 1999
Opening the set tonight was "Safe", the intense acoustic guitar summonsed the crowd to be silent and observe the sounds that were presented so forcefully through the Drums, Bass, Guitar and Vocals. These Vocals suppressed us from thinking beyond how great this band were, how lucky we were to be there to see them and how natural the musicians were to playing their music. I watched Donal play the acoustic like a man that knew his craft better than no other, the king of rhythm guitar and "the captain of soul". He was so casual and familiar to the fret board and six strings that one might believe him to be older. They are an inspiring act. There are some new sounds in tonight’s act, one being a song called "Close", (I think), that is very busy and industrial sounding but truly original. There are so many effects accompanying the band that we forget that they are four in number. Listen out for "Exit".
For me, imagery was the power that drove the night. I imagined the four along the promenade just as in the "Breaking the Ice" video, the rain falling and the cold biting. I wondered if this band, in 1996, had any idea of how good they are and how much better they would become. I wonder if they know today how great they are. I cherish the talent of The Plague Monkeys as I know that it is not often that we get an Irish band with such originality playing to such local but privileged audiences.
I spoke with Donal and Tom from the Plague Monkeys tonight and they assured me that the Plague Monkeys site will be completed and posted "very soon".
The Sunday Times - "Surface Tension"
A measured blend of floating in space pop music and earthly melodies, offset by the astonishing voice of Carol Keogh, makes this debut album one of the best Irish albums of recent years. It has everything: engagement, emotion, warmth and depth."
Internet - Ciaran Flynn - July 5 1998
I was at the Plague Monkeys last night, 05 July '98, in The Roisin Dúbh, here in Galway. Everything is just as I had predicted it would be, they were brilliant. Outstanding vocals and tight guitar from a very talented pair of lead artists. Despite some sound difficulties in the beginning the band pulled through and provided a tranquil journey back to the roots of Irish music down the path of alternative, neo Celtic sounds.
Irish Independent Newspaper
"THE MOST IMPORTANT BAND IN IRELAND".
The Plague Monkeys - Mouth To Mouth, December 11 1999
Imagine the offspring of Dolores Keane and Christie Hennessy singing soullessly over the backing music of a cheap Cranberries cover band. Imagine the agony.
Hot Press "Demo Parade", February 1996
"Carol Keoghs beautiful voice rings true like a bell".
"The guitar melody is blissful and married to the ever intelligent guitar ......"
"I can't go on enough about Carol Keoghs voice; it really is a fine, emotive instrument"
XL - Aoife Mulholland - June 1996
"They swirl and drift, affected with Carol Keogh's languishing vocals, soaked and stricken with melancholy. Donal O' Mahony's eddying guitars and Kevin Greene's inevitable bass as a structure, the bedrock that it all washes over ...."
"On the several dozenth listen to the utterly fantastic demo ... The Plague Monkeys are here and now on the edge of being immensely successful ......."
"Heineken Rhythm Guide" - Today FM, July 1997
"...she's got the most beautifully ethereal and wonderful voice. I just want to cry and scrape her eyes out because she's so good."
Zeitgeist magazine "Shpider's Best of '97" December 14 1997
Some of the best '97 - Shpider
Lambchop - Thriller
Palace Music - Lost Blues and other Songs
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - The Boatman's Call
Smog - Red Apple Falls
The Plague Monkeys - Navigator E.P.
Robert Wyatt - Shleep