The Minnows

The Minnows

BandAlternativeRock

Chilled out indie rock with strong melodies and layers of vocal harmonies. The Minnows are an Irish four-piece who have drawn from influences from The Beatles to Pink Floyd, Neil Young to Lloyd Cole, to create a truly original sound that avoids inevitable comparisons with compatriots Snow Patrol.

Biography

ROCKANDREPRISE.NET REVIEW

It ain't coming, sports fans, it's here, and it's been here for some time. Somehow, the entire world overlooked one of Ireland's best exports, The Minnows, so let us set things right. You have to love a band who puts Leonard Cohen's name in an album title, and the music is pretty damn good too. Watch the teaser above and then click on through to a review which gives the bottom-feeding lowdown. Read on...

the minnows: leonard cohen's happy compared to me

Sometimes you have to reach into the past to find the best albums of the current year. So it is with The Minnows' 2008 release, Leonard Cohen's Happy Compared to Me. One would expect an album with such a title stacked with musical depression and, admittedly, a few of the tracks lean that way, but like The Minnows' Michael Rafferty said in a radio interview, Leonard Cohen is not all despair and anguish.

Neither are The Minnows. They visit places which, while not brimming with joy, are not the pits of emotional hell. They are more reflections, though at times deep reflections. The lyrics are neither morose nor despondent, rather thoughts and even wonder. Do they work? Oh, yeah.

Dreams opens the album, probably for good reason. A night without sleep, a mind which can't stop thinking. We've all been there, wondering--- usually what if, what is, or why. The more exhausted we get, the deeper we go until we pray for sleep and a morning which hides the ghosts we create. “I think of life,” Rafferty sings, “I think of death/I think of Heaven and hell, my mother, my father, the devil and God/I think of babies, children, murder, violence, war and peace/And peace of mind... my peace of mind.” And the whole while, heavily reverbed and chorded guitar builds this soft wall, velvet with layers of sound. The vocal harmonies, way too short, reinforce the mood, and we all float if but just for this short time.

They begin The Wedding with fifties'-style vocals, echoing the street corners of the East Coast cities of the US, but that is not all there is. One can hear a little soul, a bit of rock, maybe more. This is a vocal track and the band is there, but just for background. The voices, by the way, are spellbinding in that while they approach the days of The Belmonts and The Mystics, they stop short. Call it a nod to melody and harmony with respect to the past.

Initially, Roonkin was my favorite track, rocking guitar and keyboards laying groundwork for a hook-laden ride to Popville. The chorus (“Oh no. I forgot my guitar/I don't know how I got this far”), perfectly placed and performed, is pure AM radio to my ears. Pop lives!

Small victories are small victories to people who have everything, but for those whose victories are few and far between, The Minnows hand you Free Man Freeman. In a little over eight minutes, you can live a dream of the past, be it a people's struggle, a past love, a realization of an elusive truth. Mid-tempo and acoustic at the beginning (a bit of Americana as a first course, shall we say?), it tiptoes around a repetitive musical theme which in your ears is not repetitive at all, building to a rolling but mild crescendo before riding into the sunset. That ride lasts for a good four minutes, but one wishes it could go on forever, a modernized and melodic Volga Boatmen-style chorus (no words, just vocal chorus) supported by a relaxed and rhythmic background of violin, harmonica, acoustic guitar, rolling bass, fairly quiet but essential percussion, and a bell--- neither cowbell nor sleigh bell, but Liberty Bell. The United States may think they own it, but freedom and liberty are in the soul and in no one's soul more than one oppressed. Make a movie about oppression, end it with a small victory and Free Man Freeman playing over ending credits and you have a movie worth seeing, if just for that.

These are just a few of the high points. There are no low points. Every song--- each and every single damn one of them--- is solid. Rafferty writes for the ear, my ear anyway, and I hear hit after hit, but the band is what pulls it off. Rafferty has a voice perfectly git to his songs, the band weaves itself around the songs like a cocoon, and I walk away each time I hear the album, wondering what is wrong with a world so ready to not make an effort to find such treasure.

So far, 2009 has been an exceptional year. The Lisa Parade's Finding Flora, The Weaver Twins' Fayre, Amelia Jay's Like a Kite, and now Leonard Cohen's Happy Compared To Me proves that, musically, the music industry is thriving. And forget that The Minnows released this last year. They only recently picked up US distribution through cdBaby and that qualifies it, in my mind, for the 2009 Sweepstakes. They're in the running. Stay tuned for updates.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

Lyrics

Dreams

Written By: Michael Rafferty

I go to bed. I cannot sleep
I guess my thoughts are getting much too deep… getting much too deep
But when I think too much, I start losing touch
With me and my own reality

I lie awake. I think of you
I think of love and hate and God knows other women too
But when I get confused is when I start to lose
My patience, my temper and my cool

I hear a noise outside my window in the yard
Could it be the rain or could it be some other pain
And though the footsteps seem to echo round my brain
Will they disappear or will they always remain?

I think of life. I think of death
I think of Heaven and hell, my mother my father, the devil and God
I think of babies, children, murder, violence, war and peace
And peace of mind… my peace of mind
But when I start to dream is when it starts to seem
That maybe there may be a better place for you and me

The Wedding

Written By: Michael Rafferty

Do you remember the sweet rain of September
When I first met you, I swore I’d never lose you
Now you’re getting married and I’m sitting in the front row crying

My dear Joanna, will you ever remember
The days at college, the nights we spent together
Now you’re getting married and I’m sitting in the front row crying

Wait a minute. Don’t do it. Oh no.
Wait a minute. Don’t do it. Don’t, don’t leave me alone

If I may continue… let me finish what I started
After all these years, my love has not departed
And now you’re married and I’m standing at the altar dying
Yeah now you’re married and I’m standing at the altar dying

Baby Blue

Written By: Michael Rafferty

You and me, are we lucky? Are we sailing the same sea?
You and me, are we happy? Is this how we want to be?
And I wonder if love is a feeling that sends someone reeling from out of the blue
Could it be I may not be in love but I’m still guilty of being jealous of you
Though I’ve no right to

Maybe there’s something inside of me longing to be free
And I can’t let myself go till I’m sure that my heart tells me so

Some may say I’m not feeling, that I’m heartless and mean
Some may say that you’re crazy to be thinking about me
Oh but how can they talk about me when they can’t even see it’s not how I want to be
If I could have it some other way, I would do it today
But I can’t so I won’t and I don’t care what they say

Maybe there’s something inside of me longing to be free
And I can’t let myself go till I’m sure that my heart tells me so

Goodbye to you, it’s alright Baby Blue
Life must go on in the long run… so must you

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

Written By: Michael Rafferty

This is the strangest split I’ve ever come across
And it’s the first time that I’ve ever felt such a loss
And it’s not because we fought and it’s not that we fell out
It’s just that we have both become something each other can do without

We loved each other more than anyone could ever do
But we’ve been through this scene so many times now… it’s true
But it’s nothing that you did and it’s nothing that you said
It’s just that there was once that little extra something
Now it’s dead

We were together. We were beautifully contented
We said “I love you” and each time we always meant it
And everything turned out the way we’d always dreamt
But familiarity breeds contempt

What can I say now that the well’s run dry and words are very hard to find
What can I say now, thoughts of sorrow and of pain run riot through my mind

We were together. We were beautifully contented
We said “I love you” and each time we always meant it
And everything turned out the way we’d always dreamt
But familiarity is the curse for lovers just like you and me

Free Man Freeman

Written By: Michael Rafferty

Free Man Freeman

Hey crazy bird
Won’t you rest your weary wings and settle down
People saying you’ve been too long flying round

The stars and moon will never be as high as I’ve been in my time
They will never, they’ll never see the things that I’ve seen

Welcome to my world now baby
You and I have lots to see
Take a trip to somewhere different
It’s wonderful and hassle free
I have tried my best now baby but I don’t want to be like them
All I want is the chance to be myself, the chance to live, to be a free man

Hey Doctor Brown
Have you got a cure for me?
Can’t you see my only problem is my longing to be free

Welcome to my world now baby
You and I have lots to see
Take a trip to somewhere different
It’s wonderful and hassle free
I have tried my best now baby but I will never be like them
All I want is the chance to be myself, the chance to live, to be a free man

Discography

Albums
Leonard Cohen's Happy Compared To Me (2008)

Singles
Free Man Freeman (2008)
The Wedding (2009)
Something New (coming soon)

Set List

Our typical set list is about one hour and 15 minutes long, featuring approx. 14 original songs (we can do lots more if required!).

Typical track listing would be:

1) Dreams
2) Baby Blue
3) The Wedding
4) Hell Trip
5) Why Don’t You Phone Me Any More?
6) Something New
7) Freeman
8) Roonkin
9) What Was I Supposed To Do
10) Sailing On
11) Familiarity Breeds Contempt
12) Foreign Tongue
13) Where Were U
14) Time Flies

We don't tend to play cover versions although have been known to cover Neil Young's 'Like a Hurricane', 'Blue' by An Emotional Fish, 'Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken' by Lloyd Cole. We do prefer to concentrate on our own material.