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Friday, July 8, 2011

Fire On McGinnis - Fire On McGinnis

Fire On McGinnis - Fire On McGinnis
2010, Fire On McGinnis

Juneau, Alaska isn't known as a hotbed for Indie Music, but long cold nights make for great jamming, a jug o' Punch passed around while playing fiddle tunes is hardly the worst way to warm the heart.  This idea, or one like it, likely gave birth to Celtic rockers Fire On McGinnis.  Working with less than world class recording equipment and resources, the band have cut a respectable debut album in the form of Fire On McGinnis

There are a lot of pros and cons on Fire On McGinnis.  The vocalist just doesn't have the chops to lead a band of this sort, and Fire On McGinnis has altered their recording and production values to accommodate its singer.  This is apparent throughout the album.  The album opens with "The Bells Of Dunlanc", an instrumental that mixes traditional Celtic styles with a rock n roll sound.  Pipes and violin tell their tale over a martial bead and stolid bass and guitar.  "Foggy Dew" is solid, with good energy and okay vocals.  "Paddy's Leather Breeches" opens with a guitar line that sounds like the band is launching into "London Calling". The song itself is brief and a bit repetitive, but solid enough for all that. 

"Nancy Whiskey" falls flat.  Vocalist Martha DeFreest just doesn't generate any energy or dynamic variation.  The rest of Fire On McGinnis is holding back throughout the song, and it shows.  Little is held back on the instrumental "Catharsis", creating an interesting mix of Celtic and melodic rock.  Violin and guitar take the leads here, and DeFreest is particularly fluent on the fiddle, even the lead guitar occasionally drowns out part of his lines.  "Wild Rover" finds Fire On McGinnis conflicted.  This is a raucous tune, a state that vocalist DeFreest just doesn't seem able to achieve.  The backing vocals want to break out and go a bit crazy, but there's always that feel that the band needs to hold back so the vocals can be heard.  Even the interdiction of The Surfaris' "Wipeout" is a bit too laid back.  Fire On McGinnis stays stuck in this rut until the closing number, "Seaforth Lullabye" At first listen you might think it's a fairly standard bagpipe piece.  But slip on your headphones and listen again.  It's a trip.

Fire On McGinnis is a band of competent musicians who enjoy what they do.  The group is held back by a vocalist who has an interesting voice, but has neither the power, the pizzazz nor the vocal tone to successfully lead a band in a commercial environment.  A's for effort all around, but as currently configured; Fire On McGinnis is best suited to a loud bar on a Saturday night.  The band may well be capable of more, but have become so used to holding themselves back it will be a hard habit to break.

Rating: 2 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Fire On McGinnis at or  Fire On McGinnis is available from on CD and as a Download.  The album is also available on iTunes.

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