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Martin Rafferty & Northern City Lights Martin Rafferty & Northern City Lights
Album: Last Brigade
Label: Self Released
Tracks: 5

You know how the world loves an Irish band with a big old sound…? Straight outta Armagh City come Martin Rafferty and his Northern City Lights outfit touting megalithic guitar sounds, stadium-crushing drum riffs and bass fills that can bring down walls, all manacled to Rafferty's heroic vocal delivery.

It's all about chins up, chests out, clenched fists in the air - choruses to go into battle to, verses that reflect the streets, schemes, hopes, dreams and fears that will be familiar to most regardless of age or where they're from.

Without being startlingly original, this is supremely well delivered and in places genuinely exhilarating stuff. Those school kids that helped Rafferty pay for this recording by taking guitar lessons with him are likely to have a few very interesting stories to tell their mates in years to come for America must surely await with the EP already in rotation on 200 US radio stations.

Musically, there's a noisy Venn diagram where Oasis, Foo Fighters, The Hold Steady, The Replacements and Springsteen overlap - look closely and you'll see Rafferty's initials carved on the spot.

Lead single, The Way We Used To Be, sets the tone with a killer driving riff, let's-get-lost lyrics and a heart stopping minor chord to shake it all up. The title track doesn't break the mould - its valiant story about growing up and getting out is just a fag paper's width away from classic status. It's Been So Long adds its considerable weight to the litany of Irishmen's songs about leaving, while the opening Best Shoes is a flawless blues rocker with leave-me-be eyes, leaving the disc's last song The Star Tonight to offer a (slightly) more reflective blend of the familiar ingredients.

Not so much a calling card then, as a shouting one.

Nick Churchill