First making waves in 2009 with the release of their debut single Brobdingnagian, Axis Of‘s tidal wave has been on the rise ever since.
Hailing from the seaside resort town of Portstewart in Co. Antrim, the power trio have enjoyed an increase in popularity having toured with more established acts in the alternative and punk scene such as Therapy?, The Joy Formidable and The Bronx; positioning themselves as one of the hottest prospects to emerge from the Northern Irish music scene in recent years. Having signed with Derry based Smalltown Records in 2012 (founded by and former home to fellow NI darlings Jetplane Landing and And So I Watch You From Afar respectively, no less), Axis Of released their debut album ‘Finding St Kilda’ in 2013.
On their sophomore album ‘The Mid Brae Inn’, Axis Of have developed a form of maritime punk, born of their coastal origins. Lyricist Ewen Friers (bass, vocals) provides here a depth of literate lyricism blown like a stormy wind over the top of ebbing and flowing rhythm sections and guitar riffs that carry the depth of the great blue and arpeggio-overdubs that bubble atop like brine. The lyrics are metaphorical throughout; telling tales of friends, places and times old, new, lost, found, remembered and forgotten, deeply rooted in the band’s origins but reflecting on the modernity and the world at large.
This lyrical flare is evident on The Grey Man’s Path, with the lines, “16,000 years behind, war figures and cybercrimes. The bubbles under Yellowstone, the murderers that we bring home. The gas, the arms, the price, demands. Barry Home and old showbands.”
Axis Of’s mastering of the soft-loud dynamic is equally evident right from the word go, with the chugging one-chord of opening track All My Bones broken only briefly by a reverberated guitar lick before it all comes crashing down again. Bouncy lead single Wetsuit picks up the slack with a galloping drum beat and football chant style backing vocals. The band effectively make use of vocal harmonies and stop-start song arrangements. This is most notable on The Harsh Winds of Rathlin, which wouldn’t sound out of place on an early Fugazi record if not for Axis Of’s more obvious pop-sensibilities than those of messrs MacKaye and Picciotto. Meanwhile Sunfinder features glimmering synth patches, with enough twists and turns but also hooks to attract the ears of fans of compatriots ASIWYFA and Two Door Cinema Club.
‘The Mid Brae Inn’ is an infectious piece of positive power pop, with enough depth to strike an emotional chord with the listener and enough accessibility to draw many more of the same to Axis Of’s radar.
‘The Mid Brae Inn’ will be released on 23 February 2015. It is available to pre-order here.