Michael Knight
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Michael Knight

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland

Dublin, Leinster, Ireland
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So much that is original and unusual about away-from-the-mainstream music-making informs this second album from Richard Murphy and his collective: a sleeve like a tattered, secondhand book; lyrics presented in play-script form; a sprawling opening track of Swingle-Singers-on-the-lash vocal ravings; the threat that beneath the formal, chamber-pop structures, chaos lurks and dissonance hums; the primacy of the artistic vision, with nothing sweetening or diluting its purpose. Deluded misanthropists, defeated idealists, becalmed lovers, materialistic arrivistes and vengeful exes people the “11 Tableaux”, with Murphy’s laconic singing and Bacharachian progressions just about joining the dots. Pretty odd, but rather fine. - The Sunday Times (UK)


I'm not entirely clear why Richie Murphy isn't already a huge star in his own country. Why did his band, Michael Knight, have to leave Dublin for Berlin to seek their fortune? Do people just not get their sense of humour here? Or is it just that their elaborate, meticulously arranged pop and highly literate lyricism are just too clever-clever for mainstream tastes here?

Whatever, this state of affairs will surely be put right with their flamboyant second album, explanatorily subtitled 'A Somewhat Disjointed Narrative in 11 Tableaux'. A loosely connected series of sharp, witty and acutely observed musings on the high and lows of love and life, it's set to a musical score that is, by turns, quaintly ramshackle and astonishingly accomplished. A fine ensemble cast of singers and musicians flow in and out of Murphy's intricate missive, each song a joyful nugget in its own peculiar right.

From the post-modern sleaze of 'Coronation Street' to the ironic triumph of the title track, Murphy's theatrical wit and daring sense of melody puts him on a footing with the likes of Stephen Merritt, Neil Hannon and even Noel Coward. A truly victorious album. - State


It comes as little surprise that Richie Murphy, bellwether of refined Dublin pop trio Michael Knight is irked by constant comparisons to Belle & Sebastian. While there are certainly worse bands to resemble - Bon Jovi, Oasis, Snow Patrol, Journey, Wet Wet Wet, for example - no musician really wants to hear who they're supposedly ripping off. Besides, while MK certainly have the charmingly twee melodies and bashful vocals down pat, there's an occasional macabre current running through both their delicious debut album, Youth Is Wasted On The Young and their concise live set - something that fans of both Neil Hannon and Stephen Merritt may appreciate. Essentially Murphy on keyboards/guitar/songwriting duties with two kooky 'n' kool female singers providing incidental pitch-perfect harmonies, Michael Knight are playing tonight at the plush Sugar Club, a venue usually reserved for cabaret acts and singer-songwriters. In other words, the perfect domain for a largely piano-based indie-pop band.

Murphy's droll exterior and deadpan expressions are in stark contrast to the warm, classic pop he peddles; but providing comic relief of-sorts are the Marigold-and-pinny-clad Miriam Ingram and erstwhile collaborator Oh Decima (possibly not her real name). Taking his place at the keyboard and vowing to not waste any precious time with idle chit-chat, he churns out one well-crafted, classic pop gem after another; album tracks Leaving Town, Youth Is Wasted On The Young and the gorgeous i>Waves To The Shore are sumptuous summer outings, all sunny harmonies and bittersweet lyrics; but new track Coronation Street is a dark, menacing affair, perhaps indicative of a new direction. There is scant opportunity for wisecracks and banter, but even so, Murphy's dry wit is evident lyrically if not publicly, with winsome duet Victory Is Mine imparting the line: 'Ooh, lets spend a week in Torquay, that would be a nice break/Or we could save up for a conservatory'.

Unfortunately, the half-hour set is both too short and too sparsely-attended, even for a four-band showcase on a Friday night. Why Michael Knight aren't already huge
is both baffling and beguiling; but there lies a persisting talent for songwriting within; sooner or later these songs will be discovered and consequently as eulogised as that hairy buffoon and his silly talking car are. I may as well say it in advance, then; I told you so. - www.soundsxp.com


Michael Knight are a Dublin band with a sense of humour and should not be confused with a character from cheesy '80s TV show Knightrider. Their influences are a familiar grab-bag of art-pop and indie, and this debut album owes a debt to, among others, Stereolab and Quasi. The opener 'Foals' is an immediate highlight. Flawlessly melodic and uplifting, the track's layered backing vocals, catchy bassline and jangling guitars nod towards Gastr del Sol and Pavement. Elsewhere, MK
utilise piano, synths and multi-tracked harmonies, while on the title track, Patrick Freyne of the Dublin outfit Bad Intentions contributes a husky, rumbling delivery. Less successful are the album's calmer interludes: 'Crown Of Thorns' and 'No Second Best' come off like a sorry Brian Wilson pastiche. Nonetheless, this is an album ripe with promise. Michael Knight may yet be prime-time material. - Hot Press


Who says that the Irish can't do twee? Err, nobody, actually, but.. still. If ever it was insinuated that the natives of this island are limited in their musical ambitions, Michael Knight dispel such a notion in one fell swoop. Youth Is Wasted On the Young, the scandalously underrated and overlooked 2005 long-player from the Dublin trio is a warm, engaging and thoroughly charming debut offering. It's said that band leader Richie Murphy hates comparisons with Belle and Sebastian, but the dulcet harmonies and congenial guitar-based melodies (Foals, Waves To The Shore) are undeniably akin to the Scottish twee merchants. However, further comparisons with Bacharach (Leaving Town, in particular) and Rufus Wainwright prove equally accurate. There's a sophistication about Youth Is Wasted On The Young that's not found in many debuts, so redress the indignity of this album's criminal disregard and pick it up now. - www.entertainment.ie


Though there's no one in the band actually named Michael Knight, this trio hails from Dublin and have given us quite a delightful debut album! I put this record on and instantly loved it right from the first track, "Foals", but then was completely bowled over by "Waves To The Shore" with its gorgeous guitar tone and boy/girl vocal melodies. This brilliant pair of songs reminded me of the perfect pop of Small Factory or Honeybunch, but the rest of the record is fairly different from those songs, from the upbeat indie rock sound of "The Lights Go On And Off" and "I Did It Biff's Way" to the piano-based Bacharach/Beach Boys-inspired sound of pretty much the rest of the record (with some of those highlights including "Seasons" and "Leaving Town"). This is quite a lovely debut from this band, from the (mostly) fantastic songs to the attractive children's book-ish artwork. Nice! - www.indiepages.com


Discography

2003 No More Lonely Knights EP
2005 Foals Single
2005 Youth Is Wasted On The Young LP
2008 I'm Not Entirely Clear How I Ended Up Like This LP

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Bio

Michael Knight are a Dublin/Berlin-based indie pop group. They mix blackly comic (and sometimes even genuinely affecting) lyrics & multiple vocalists with an intricate musical backdrop. They could be, and have been, compared to music as diverse as the Beach Boys (vocal harmonies), Burt Bacharach (arrangements), spaghetti western soundtracks (guitars & whistles), mariachi music (military style drums), Motown (pounding rhythms), twee (er, twee), and church music. In a consistent sort of way. Their new record "I'm Not Entirely Clear How I Ended Up Like This" is out now on yesboyicecream records (Suburban Kids with Biblical Names).