It is always exciting to catch a young band on their way up the ladder to musical success. Otherkin has the potential to be one of those bands. They are releasing their first full-length LP on September 29th called “OK”. The release holds significant promise. I predict many music aficionados will be enamoured with the group after a listen.
Otherkin formed in Dublin in 2013. The members of the band were drawn together by a mutual love of The Clash, Queens of the Stone Age, The Ramones and Blur. Luke Reilly vocalist/guitarist, David Anthony, bassist and Connor Andrew Wynne, lead guitarist formed the central core of the band but things truly jelled with the arrival of drummer Rob Summers. From the beginning, the band has gained fans and critical notice playing the vibrant Dublin bar circuit. They also snagged spots at high-profile festivals like Longitude, Other Voices and Electric Picnic. They have released two EPs and been touted by the likes of DJ’s Anne Mac and John Kennedy. The band has been described as channelling 20 years of British guitar bands through their own music. Their live performances have blown the roof off wherever they play. The biggest challenge to recording their debut has been capturing that live charisma in a recording studio. The band is savvy enough to know they need to be ever mindful of the “hamburger press” pressures to conform that record labels place on young bands. As to be expected of a band originating from Dublin they do not shy away from the political, unafraid to comment on current events.
Otherkin on OK opens up with Treat Me So Bad the track is a quick introduction to Otherkin’s one of a kind ability to weave together anger, immediacy and energy. The overall sonic on the track channels The Smiths stylings. The selection has a raw and untouched feeling that makes it oh so attractive. In total, the track is a romp that asked the eternal question of the ages, “Why do you treat me so bad?” The album moves on and many of the songs hearken to familiar sonics that is synthesized by the band and presented in a new light. Come on Hello is Oasis with a fantastic The Edge-like guitar riff. It is a song with hooks galore that quickly becomes an earworm. The Nirvana blended with Sonic Youth track, Ay, Ay is another delectable track that acknowledges the “here this morning gone by afternoon” tendencies of mainstream music with the lyric, “turn in a hit or you’re down as a throwaway.” Come on Hello is a winning tune that is radio friendly and a potential monster live.
Each song on the album is worthy of attention, with the vibrancy of the band having the potential ability to power a large city’s power grid. The song 89 is probably my favourite with its oscillating tempos and Red Hot Chili Peppers’ bass runs. I also highly recommend Enabler which displays the band as more than one trick pony; the song is a heavier tune and has a sinister feeling that is heightened by the buzzsaw guitars. The dramatic feeling of the song shows layers of complexity that indicated the future potential of the band. Otherkin’s ability to build catchy choruses shines through on the songs Razorhead and Bad Advice. These songs are full on sonic attacks with sing-along lyrics that are going to be sure hits live and perform well on the record. The song REACT will probably draw attention for its obvious anti-Trump lyrics, which include equating Trump to the antichrist. This satisfying rocker poses the question of what those who agree with them are going to do to react and resist. The final track SO SO displays the band as having strengths in other musical stylings. This sign off is a glorious cacophony of keyboards and techno vibes that gives texture to their usual full band approach. Lyrically the selection examines the frustration and needs for patience to waiting for karma to kick in, “sometimes you wait for a night to right the wrong”.
Otherkin with OK serves up an enticing debut LP with some relatively minor hiccups. As they gain more experience their lyric writing will develop and their own distinct sonic stylings will emerge making them less identifiable derivative. These two “typical young band” hiccups are easy to forgive as they have so much potential and a reinvigorating “hell for leather” enthusiasm that is contagious. One is easily caught cheering them on to larger success. Without a doubt, Otherkin is onto something because the album makes you want to immediately run out and see this band live. That has got to be one of the ultimate goals for any album. Otherkin not only makes you want to see them live, but they also build anticipation for whatever is around the next corner for them creatively when they enter the recording studio again.