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Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | SELF

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland | SELF
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"HAL Return"

HAL were featured on Obscure Sound over five years ago. They were under-exposed then, and remain so now. That HAL have not released anything in seven years certainly didn’t help. Nonetheless, I listened to their eponymous debut very often for several years without tiring of it. Its swirling mixture of Beach Boys-inspired west-coast pop and twangy country-rock projected a crisp form of pop with a bevy of infectious hooks, both in the vein of Brian Wilson-inspired interwoven vocal harmonies and dizzying instrumental theatrics. Maybe it was their west-coast pop hitting my sweet spot, or how the Allen brothers’ vocals mirror the ardent falsetto on The Beach Boys’ “ Be Here in the Mornin’”. That song was on The Beach Boys’ fourteenth album, Friends, and any fan of that album or The Beach Boys in general will fall immediately in love with HAL. I’m in that niche, obviously.

On Friends, the exuberantly majestic self-titled song, the cool-headed psychedelia of “Passing By”, and the suavely soulful “Little Bird” established it among The Beach Boys’ more relaxed releases, even if it also marked one of their most stylistically ambitious. Its enduring appeal can be attributed to cohesive stylistic adjustment; R&B, bossa nova, country-pop, and – thanks to Dennis Wilson – some great alternate take on psych-rock were driving forces, and all were incorporated with a smooth precision that only a producer like Brian Wilson could handle. The Beach Boys already proved such diversity before with Smiley Smile and Wild Honey (the latter being another accurate comparison to HAL’s sound), but it was still an enjoyable development. Although Friends, is not regarded with as much reverence as Wild Honey by some, it made its mark in most clearly exemplifying The Beach Boys’ underrated grasp of many styles that extended beyond the traditional west-coast pop that commercial audiences are familiar with.

Although HAL remain indebted to early rock much like The Beach Boys (and obviously the west-coast pop they engineered), they achieved something similar with HAL that Wilson did with Friends. HAL masterfully took elements of power-pop, country, and classic-rock and embedded it within a style they could call their own (for the most part). Beach Boys tributes tend to be derivative and dull, but when you put such a powerful influence in the hands of talented pop songwriters like the Allen brothers, they do not repeat ideas. If that were the case, Beach Boys fans would regard their songs as poor cover versions. Instead, HAL are more focused on Brian Wilson’s production methods than his songs. The multi-tracked harmonizing, orchestral tendencies, and glistening melodies are entirely their own. HAL sounds like a bunch of excellent original songs produced by Brian Wilson, not written by him. Did I mention that this was HAL’s debut? I apologize if the Beach Boys comparisons are tiring by now, but (like The Explorers Club) HAL are a very rare breed. They fully capture a nostalgically successful genre without replicating it, which for west-coast pop this is a very admirable feat. - Obscure Sounds

"Gaels' Honey"

There's a real joie de vivre to these songs, strong and seductive enough to be both original and timeless. - Uncut Magazine


Hal (2005) - UK #31[6]
"The Time, The Hour" (2011)[4]

"Worry About the Wind" (26 April 2004) - UK #53
"What a Lovely Dance" (24 January 2005) - IRE #19, UK #36
"Play the Hits" (11 April 2005) - UK #38
"Don't Come Running" / "I Sat Down" (15 August 2005)

Be With You (May 2011)



Dublin 3-piece, Hal, formed in 2003 and were signed by Geoff Travis to Rough Trade Records in 2004. Their eponymous debut album was produced by Tears for Fears' Ian Stanley, and released to critical acclaim in 2005, producing two UK and Irish top 40 chart hits. The band toured worldwide during 2004/05, enjoying extensive television & radio promotion all over Europe, and performing headline and support shows with the likes of the Doves, The Thrills and Brendan Benson. Finding particular success in France, they were awarded an EBBA (European Border Breakers Award) for most debut record sales outside their home nation, and ?Best Album of 2005' in French Magazine ?Music'. Back home they won ?Album of 2005' in the Irish Independent, and ?Best Newcomers' in the Irish Post, as well earning nominations for the Choice Music Prize and ?Best Band of 2005' at the Meteor Awards. In 2007, suffering writers block, singer David Allen quit the band and left Ireland. He returned in 2008, with a large collection of new songs, having spent nearly 2 years travelling Europe and the States with only his guitar for company, playing in various pubs and clubs, and indulging in a different pseudonym for each performance.
During this time Stephen, the band's keyboard player, put himself to work building his own recording studio where he has engineered and played on several acclaimed records including Fionn Regan's latest offering, "The Shadow of an Empire" Dave's brother, the band's bass player/backing vocalist, Paul, immersed himself in his other great love-photography as well as penning new songs and musical ideas in the hope that they would one-day reform Hal.
And so on Dave's return to Ireland, they did just that and began sifting through material to begin work on Hal's second record. The band spent 2010 recording and 2011 will see the band return to the live arena and long-awaited release of second album, “The Time, The Hour”.
As a taster they are making ?Down In The Valley' available as a free download from 24th Jan 2011 at the following address:
www.twitter.com/halmusic www.facebook.com/pages/HAL/101655069891243?v=info
Contact: Nian
00 44 (0) 7973 966 404