DESPITE extensive touring, a recent SXSW Festival appearance and a Choice Music Prize nomination, Waterford band O Emperor are not taking any time to rest on their laurels, returning this week to Limerick with a gig in Dolan’s Warehouse.
The gig comes on foot of the recent release of the alternative arrangement of their third single “Sedalia” from their highly acclaimed album “Hither Thither”, which the band recorded in RTE’s Studio One, with none other than the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, under the conduction of Ciarán Crilly, as accompaniment.
For anyone who hasn’t seen the video for Sedalia, you will do well to find a better release from an Irish band this year, and proves the Waterford five-piece were desperately unlucky not to scoop top prize for their album at the Choice, eventually won by Northern Irish trio, Two Door Cinema Club.
Sedalia opens with a delicate piano-intro, gliding into a full orchestral arrangement and was fully scored by Phil Christie, who also takes lead vocals on the track. Equal parts Midlake, Grizzly Bear and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the song is a slow-burner, but reaches epic heights.
O Emperor have been together in one form or another for the best part of a decade, however, only formed under the moniker in 2008. Since then they have recorded and released their debut album to critical acclaim, supported multi-platinum artists Mumford & Sons on a UK and Ireland tour and completed their own headline tour towards the end of 2010.
Made up of Paul Savage, Richie Walsh, Alan Comerford, Brendan Fennessy and Christie, the five piece band exude a dynamism and natural confidence on stage that belies their younger years and possess an attitude that can only come from years of gigging and touring together, driven by the fact that they are childhood and school-friends who have played together for many years.
Not many bands get two opportunities to record their debut album, but then not many bands are of the level that O Emperor have reached in just a few short years. This band recorded their debut in Kinsale over a six-month period, had it packaged and printed, and then decided to scrap it - using the completed album as a calling card to record companies, soon securing a deal with Universal Ireland and leading the group back into the studio to re-record the album.
Speaking to the Chronicle when they released the album, Christie said: “We are pretty happy with it. We had a long time to mull it over and get everything that we wanted on it - we would want to be happy at this
stage! If we weren’t, I don’t think we ever would be”.
Boasting a deeply layered sound, mature instrumentation - ringing guitars, shimmering, lush sound-scapes and delicate pianos - and songs that namecheck influences as diverse as Pink Floyd, Radiohead, The Band and Neil Young, this is one band not to miss.
O Emperor play Dolan’s Warehouse this Friday, April 8.