Review by Paul Gilgunn

Irish band TKO’s latest release, The Keystone E.P. is a well-crafted collection of tunes served up as a taster of the band’s upcoming studio album. This multi-instrumental six-piece showcase three songs on the E.P., encompassing a variety of styles from rock to folk to jazz, with fine songwriting complemented by skillful instrumentation and well-worked out arrangements.

TKO delivers this eclectic musical mix admirably to form the band’s distinctive sound, marking the group as potential contenders for the ‘next big thing’ in Irish music. The band have also gigged with some of the biggest names on the national and international music scene, building a formidable reputation as a ‘must see’ live outfit, and this talent is evident on the performances captured on the Keystone E.P..

The opening track, ‘The Busker’ tells the story of a happy-go-lucky musician’s perspective on fame and fortune in an upbeat, catchy tune that benefits from the band’s musical forces interlocking impressively, generating a vibrant musical energy. My only quibble with this track is that the lead guitar line is too low in the mix — as a consequence of the number of instruments playing at once – yet this is only a minor gripe, and it does not overshadow this tune, one which I found myself singing in the shower many days after having listened to it!

Hiding in the Corner’ also benefits from TKO’s impressive musical chops; the song features a water-tight rhythm section overlaid with some funky wah-wah guitar work, harmonica, violin, and sax to create a unique aural texture boosted by inventive harmonic changes, and dexterous rhythmic playing. The instrumental breaks TKO explore are refreshing by virtue of incorporating their diverse musical influences yet retain a characteristic sound throughout the E.P..

The closing song ‘Game Over’ begins with a melancholic atmosphere — artfully sustained by the group’s multi-instrumental forces — before the song switches into a joyful, folk-like stomp. The powerful vocal on this final track is particularly good, detailing a fine range and expressiveness from the lead singer, and complimented with a violin that nicely doubles the melodic line at key points. It’s the standout track on the collection, and is indicative of the band’s bravery in fusing musical forms to create their own distinctive musical identity.

The Keystone E.P. is an impressive release from a promising Irish group who are certainly capable of great things, and I will very much look forward to hearing the full album, and catching the band live.

Verdict: victory by technical knockout.

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