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The Strypes

Recreating a pub-rock blues style once affiliated to The YARDBIRDS, early BEATLES and DR. FEELGOOD, Irish lads The STRYPES take listeners back to a time when Carnaby Street was the fashion centre of the world, the harmonica was an important instrument, and R&B stood for pure rhythm & blues.
Formed in Cavan, in 2008, the fresh-faced STRYPES exchanged school books for sheet music and played their inaugural gig at Farnham National School. At this stage, a quintet consisting of Pete O’Hanlon (vocals), Josh McClorey (lead guitar), Evan Walsh (drums), Conor Bates (rhythm guitar) and Jack Hayden (bass), the group were trimmed to an instrumental trio when the latter two musicians jumped ship. A new singer/harmonica-player was found in Ross Farrelly at the turn of the decade, while O’Hanlon switched to bass (also harmonica) before the group got down to cutting a disc. Armed with an array of stylish covers, a couple of Irish-only singles/downloads (including covers of The BEATLES’ `You Can’t Do That’ and `Taxman’) demo’d their way up to the top brass, one in particular, a rip-roaring re-take of WILLIE DIXON’s `You Can’t Judge A Book By The Cover’ (complete with a video shot by their former babysitter!), let loose on the quartet’s debut UK release, the EP `Young Gifted & Blue’, in 2012.
Bolstered by support from star turns NOEL GALLAGHER, PAUL WELLER, ROGER DALTREY, Dave Grohl, et al, it was through another big-wig (no pun intended) Sir ELTON JOHN, that they garnered a record company deal at Virgin-EMI through EJ’s Rocket management. A handful of stylish singles, from `Blue Collar Jane’ to `Hometown Girls’ and `What A Shame’, couldn’t quite get the necessary downloads to make the charts, but a growing youth fanbase secured them a Top 5 place for their Chris Thomas-produced debut album, SNAPSHOT (2013) {*7}. Okay, the set was a little dated, but featuring the songs by McClorey and Co, and a feast of covers, including BO DIDDLEY’s `I Can Tell’, NICK LOWE’s `Heart Of The City’ and Hambone Willie’s `Rollin’ And Tumblin’’, it was a worthy introduction to a promising career ahead.
Recalling THAT PETROL EMOTION rather than The UNDERTONES, the vibrant `Get Into It’ launched The STRYPES much-delayed sophomore set, LITTLE VICTORIES (2015) {*7}. Scaling the charts in their homeland (Top 20 in Britain), the leap forward from retro-rock’n’roll to an R&B ARCTIC MONKEYS-meets-The JAM was apparent all over the show; the spangly `Eighty-Four’, `Best Man’, `Cruel Brunette’ et al, perfectly pitched in among the spine-tingling `(I Wanna Be Your) Everyday’ and the ska-fuelled `G.O.V.’ and `Lovers Leave’.
2017’s SPITTING IMAGE {*6} was an aptly-named tongue-in-cheek title for a band stuck in a time-warp and unwilling to bend with the times. Sounding like “a bunch of Stiffs” (LOWE and COSTELLO come to mind almost immediately), The STRYPES could probably convince even the staunchest of pub-rock/new wave acolytes they’d watched GRAHAM PARKER & THE RUMOUR down the 100 Club in the late 70s. However, stripping away their “allusions” of retro grandeur, the album was only a hit on home soil, despite enthusiasm for `Behind Closed Doors’ and `A Different Kind Of Tension’ (titles of course, respectively ripped from SECRET AFFAIR and BUZZCOCKS).
© MC Strong/MCS Nov2013-Jun2017

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