Reviews

Cathal Coughlan


Irish indie music legend Cathal Coughlan has released the single ‘Song of Co-Aklan’. His first new music in ten years, this is the title track to a forthcoming album of the same name, which will be released via London label Dimple Discs. The accompanying video is a hermetic visual feast created by Emmy Award-winning filmmaker George Seminara.

Best known as co-founder and vocalist for seminal 80s/90s bands Microdisney and The Fatima Mansions, who toured internationally with U2, the Cork native has been described as “the most underrated lyricist in pop today” by The Guardian newspaper. DJ John Peel was also such a fan that he stated he could “listen to Cathal Coughlan sing the phone book”.

Recorded in London, this song features contributions from Luke Haines (The Auteurs, Black Box Recorder) on bass and baritone guitar and members of Coughlan’s long-time collaborators for the Grand Necropolitan Quartet. Namely Nick Allum (The Fatima Mansions, The Apartments) is on drums and James Woodrow is on guitar, with synth by Audrey Riley (notable collaborator of Lush, The Sundays, The Smiths, Nick Cave, The Cure, The Go-Betweens, Smashing Pumpkins, Catherine Wheel, Moloko and Coldplay, among others).

Based loosely around the persona of Co-Aklan, the song is a perfect vehicle for Cathal’s return to active service. Propelled by his signature honey-throated tenor, the song is set to a crisp, metronomic beat, peppered with understated keyboard swells and the ghostly twang of nervy surf guitar. Cryptic word play rises to a rousing chorus that declares…”raise your hands if you don’t know what this means”.

“This winter, we are all in our cellars, real and metaphorical. Some of us are pumping out those comforting suppositions on the Internet of Nothings, some of us are sheltering from the incoming actual bombardment which is a by-product of convenient shopping, and of course every one of the latter is getting ready to board the HMS Prejudice to Dover, England. This song is a work anthem, on which we can all agree and reunite,” says Cathal Coughlan.

On the video, he ponders…”why are the musicians now housed in cellars and box rooms? Where are their sound-stages and yachts? Do they not seem like exiles from times past, perhaps putting up overnight as they seek to outrun the vengeance of the common people, those noble citizens of somewhere pretty awful?”

The eye-catching cover art for ‘Song of Co-Aklan’ is by outsider artist Cristabel Christo and originated by Bruce Brand, award winning designer for The Darkness and Whites Stripes.

Cathal Coughlan is widely considered to be one of Ireland’s most revered singer-songwriters, beloved by fans of caustic literate lyricism and erudite songcraft. Since Fatima Mansions’ demise in the mid-90s, he has released five acclaimed solo albums, taken part in an array of collaborations and made numerous guest appearances. Along with Microdisney bandmates, he was the first recipient in 2019 of Ireland’s National Concert Hall Trailblazer Award, which celebrates culturally important albums by iconic Irish musicians, songwriters and composers (for 1985’s ‘The Clock Comes Down The Stairs’).

‘Song of Co-Aklan’ is out now digitally, available across online stores such as Apple Music and streaming platforms such as Spotify. The full album by the same name will be released in early spring.

CREDITS
Nick Allum – drums and percussion
James Woodrow – electric & acoustic guitars
Luke Haines – bass guitar, baritone guitars, The Synth
Cathal Coughlan – Co-Aklan
Mastered by George Shilling
Cover by Bruce Brand & Mary Tee at Arthole
Front cover painting by Cristabel Christo, based in part on photos by Gregory Dunn / Stoneybutter
Composed and deranged by Cathal Coughlan

Cathal Coughlan – Song of Co-Aklan

Cathal Coughlan links:
Band/Artist location – London England
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