Raffiki // Raffiki // EP Review // Out Now
I think I hear a rustle in the undergrowth…oh wait that’s only ‘Raffiki’ trying to hide, but we can see you guys!
This 6-piece pop/rock band hail from the midlands of Ireland in a town called Nenagh. The band consists of Grace Tooher on vocals, her brother James on guitar and vocals, their cousin Laura Sheary on piano and vocals, Ciarán Toohey on guitar and vocals, Seán Carroll on the bass and Brian Richardson on the drums. Let’s just say when this band starts playing they really pack a satisfying musical punch.
These guys have really created a stir since forming in the summer of 2010 and have made themselves a force to be reckoned with after winning the Youth Rock All Ireland Battle of the Bands and getting to the final of the coveted songwriting competition ‘Youbloom Music Awards’ in 2011. Their best memory to date is when they supported the ethereal alt-rock songstress Cathy Davey at the Portloaise festival in 2011.
They released their self titled EP just before Christmas and it’s my duty, nay my pleasure to give you an honest review of what ‘Raffiki’ is all about.
The first song ‘Jas’ has a real pop feel to it with an up-beat mixture of acoustic guitar and piano. It is a brother-sister vocal duo of inspiration and thanks to people who have helped them along the way. The acoustic sound at the beginning ends with frantic drum beats that morph it into a full band effect when they hit the chorus. The lyrics are inspiring.
‘Milk’ introduces the Dolorus’ O’Riordan-esque vocals of Laura as she plays the piano that is perfectly accompanied by the electric and bass guitar after the first verse. You should just close your eyes and listen to the soulful lyrics as they pine the lonely life of a man who has built a world around himself that shuts everyone out. At the end the piano and electric guitar with its vibrato-like sound affect fade away symbolising the failing life of this man.
The song ‘Baby Ruthless’ perfectly combines Grace’s husky vocals with the electro, organ effect of the piano and electric guitar. It starts out slowly as Grace laments her love, then her obsession grows with the fast tempo of the music and explodes into the chorus. You can’t stop your head bobbing or from swinging around in your chair at this song.
‘Purple Bag’ is a softer song with James and his acoustic guitar in the first verse that bows out to Grace and the piano in the second. They sing about keeping sadness locked up inside ourselves. All of the voices in the band blend together as they chorus “I don’t want your sympathy, just a little empathy”.
‘Howling at the Sun’ was the song that got them to the final of the ‘Youbloom’ music competition. It starts out with a real classic rock feel with the clean effect of the Epiphone Casino and combines Grace's and James' vocal harmonies. They lambast people who put down their dreams. James wrote one of their catchiest chorus’ with “We’ll be howling at the sun for a change, Making light of the crooked and the strange, Shutting out the pessimist plague, Shooting the other way”. A bit of howling is thrown in during the song for effect, what a tune.
The last song in the mix is ‘The Hills’, a tribute to reality TV shows and how they make girls want to resemble the fake women they see in magazines and on TV. It’s quite an upbeat song and you have to enjoy the lyrics and electric guitar.
This is a real feel good EP modernising a blend of Fleetwood Mac and Pearl Jam in their sound. The songs are all about inspiration, believing in yourself, never letting your life go to waste and inevitably not letting the music industry change you.
Best parts of this EP you ask?
1. The mix of catchy lyrics,
2. Amazing electric guitar and piano combo.
3. The vocal duet of Grace and James.
4. Laura Sheary’s voice.
If you want to check them out for yourself then drop down to 'The Church' on Jervis Street in Dublin on Friday, 24th of February.