Friday, March 12, 2010

FDF Volume 2: Issue 176 A House - On Our Big Fat Marry-Go-Round

By: March

Album - On Our Big Fat Merry-Go-Round
Artist - A House
Key Players - David Couse - vocals and guitar. Fergal Bunbury - guitars. Martin Healy - bass. Dermont Wylie - drums
Produced By - Steve Lowell, Steve Power and A House

Release Date - Fall 1988

What caused me to blow off the dust? - When I was in a band late in high school and for a bit of college one of the first cover songs we did was "Call Me Blue". I dug out our demo tape recently and there was a version of it on the cd (tape at the time but converted to cd). Granted it was a loose cover it still brought a smile to my face and made me realize it had been a while since I listened to the actual A House cd.

Overview - Hailing from Dublin Ireland, A House burst on to the college scene with this record. Sire records was smart in putting them on their "just say" cd compilations that were priced under $8.00. At the time compact discs were on average $15.99 so an $8.00 cd was a deal, with a blend of like minded and sounding artists from the label. A House was one, and the Ocean Blue were two of the bands that I found thanks to this series. The band would rotate a few members and release a few more records and eps the band would have its most success in the US early on. Lead single "Call me Blue" would crack the Modern Rock top 10 chart.

FDF Comments (aka the songs) - A terrific track "Call Me Blue" opens the record. The chugging guitars and bass line set the tone as Wylie hammers the drums. The song is a quick burst of pop goodness. The guitars attack and the chorus Couse really pushes himself. It loops back around and it is sort of a rinse/lather/repeat deal, but one of the best alternative rock songs you've laid your ears on. The band has an aggressive and somewhat violent tone in their songs and "I Want to Kill Something" is an example. Opening with an acoustic guitar but it quickly rocks over with some great bass work from Healy and the electric guitar continues to pack a wallop. I also am reminded with the tenacity Wylie hits the drums, good lord this man is showing no mercy on his kit. "I'll Always Be Grateful" slows it down some from the prior two tracks. The guitar has less bite to it, using more chords but the bass and drums are still locked in. You get to hear more of the baritone from from Couse. There is more of a focus on the vocals again on "My Little Lighthouse". To this point the longest song on the record (at just over 4 minutes). The band is less urgent again allowing Couse to run the range from quiet to loud. During the verses he slowly builds, but when reaching the song title he'd calm down. The bass and drums are not overly complex, instead they rely on punchy moments every 4th beat. There is a short buzzy guitar piece at the end, but it is a far cry from a "solo" and then Healy gets to show his chops a little as the song ends. In a major change of pace "Watch Out You're Dead" begins with floor toms and chugging guitar lines. It sounds a little like "Do It Clean" from Echo and the Bunnymen at points and we have some big chords on the guitars and the drums roll across the bottom. Bunbury gets to unload some with big guitar riffs before coming back around. There is a splash of acoustic guitars that you can hear under all the chaos which is a refreshing touch. There is an extended instrumental section towards the end, just long enough for you to say "hmm they haven't sung in a bit". "Don't Ever Think You're Different" opens up with acoustic guitar and some percussive instrument sounding like a cowbell (which it may be). The bass once more is leading the way since the guitars come in only at times with some bigger chords, but never getting too crazy. Couse is in rare form on this, almost laughing at times while singing. The band settles in to a comfort zone on "That's Not the Truth". The song combines the elements that have worked to this point, the driving drums and bass fills. Guitar work is a little more active and consistent but the song never perks you up feeling like "wow, they are on to something here". The drums get the intro on "Love of the Eighties" before the bass comes in. After a few bars a lone acoustic guitar strums with the vocals joining. Couse shows his strong voice once more on this mid tempo stroll. It gets a little more interesting as it progresses with some cool guitar effect but it sounds more like it is on the bass guitar The band also chants something under/speaks a few lines that you can't make out too much. When you have a song about about abuse of any sort you always wonder if you should like it. I challenge you to not love "Violent Love". Listen to it once and your toes will be tapping as the acoustic guitar get a great work out with a perfect back beat. Then, listen again to the lyrics and you'll be wondering if you should like the song. All that being said, one of my favorite songs they ever did. Sorry! "Love Quarry" has two cool guitar parts. Once is chopping the notes while the acoustic guitar and bass have some good play off each other. "Clump of Trees" is another mid temp (at least for these guys) track. I've noticed the really strong bass work on the entire record. It is not slap/funk but it is that mix of punchy meets swooping. The sound mix is great if you are a bass guitar fan, it really stands out. A good ripping tune is "Stone the Crows" but it fakes you. The single guitar line before the drums and bass join, then we get the acoustic guitar for a few bars then all of a sudden..look out! We are off to the races. This really sets it up for the final two tracks on the disc. "Hay When the Sun Shines" is first and it opens up right away and everything just chugs along, the bass, guitar and even the vocals. It builds to a frantic pace as the band gets louder and faster before crashing it all down. "Freak Out" was a b'side to the first single but was added to the record and much like the title that is what it is. It starts off much like "when the sun shines" and the bass, guitar and drums don't waste any time. It has a very rockabilly feel to it for a bit. Couse gives a maniacal laugh and the band comes back to the chord progression and it all ends on a strong note.

Where are they now? - The band broke up in 1997. Finding really anything ha been sort of a task. When you search "A House" you tend to get a fair number of hits on, well, houses. Even if I tack on "music" or "band" it really didn't come up with much. There is a Wiki page, but no myspace, or facebook fan page that I could find. If you have any luck, let me know, I'd love to add more.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience) - I only saw the band live one time. It was in an opening slot of the band "The Go Betweens" at the Living Room in Providence Rhode Island. I went with two buddies, we stood in the front of the stage and had a blast for those 35-45 minutes and that was that. I bought a shirt and the guys ended up signing it.

FDF Overall Take - There are some really great moments on this record and I personally am taken "back" when I listen. The songs hold up well and would fit on a good alternative radio station if released today. It is apparent the band had the musical chops to pull this off, but perhaps the timing was just off and the band never really got their shot in the States.

The Last FM Page for the album.

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

mp3's have been removed.

Violent Love
Hay When the Sun Shines
Call Me Blue

Tracks taken from On Our Big Fat Merry-Go-Round which is out of print but you might be able to find, starting here.

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


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