New and Old New Wave
By Mike Farragher
Early ‘80s New Wave is being reinvented by stylish New York/Irish band Audio Fiction, who have just released a new Bush-bashing EP entitled Songs In the Key of Orange Alert.
EVERYTHING old is new again.
That’s what I said to myself when I placed my checkered Van slip-on shoes into the closet after being roundly ridiculed at a family barbecue a few years ago. Now, the men’s magazines are full of models wearing the shoes made popular on the new wave celluloid classic Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At another barbecue a few weeks ago, my college-age cousin was sick with envy as I walked the backyard in all my checkered glory.
Indeed, you can hear New Wave 1980s roaring through concert halls and record shops all over this great land. Madonna and Prince are the two top concert earners in this dismal season, with the Material Girl packing the house at Slane Castle in Co. Meath recently.
A disc arrived in the mailbag this week to support this New Wave trend. Just in time to greet the thick security blanket of last week’s Republican National Convention, New York’s Audio Fiction has released a batch of catchy songs on an EP called Songs In the Key of Orange Alert.
The lead-off single is “Tick Tock,” a cheery power pop marshmallow with deceptively caustic lyrics that rally against the war effort.
“I smash your face with my open hand/marvel at your bloody nose/did I make my point or should I go on?/Life is good, if you’re on the right side/I dropped a bomb and killed your cat/wondering if I missed your dog/Did you like that? Want some more?” sings Mimi Ferraro in a coquettish delivery that recalls the ballsy pillow talk of Blondie’s Debbie Harry.
She is backed by a crackerjack band that consists of Ferg O’Sullivan (guitar and vocals), Anthony Loupos (guitar), Tom Moon (bass) and Co. Wicklow native Mark O’Toole (drums). On “Don’t Do It,” the band begins with a Velvet Underground-esque spoken word mood piece that breaks into a grunge chorus on a hairpin beat.
They play a number of diverse styles on the new disc. “Impenetrable” is a slinky R&B track that would feel right at home on a Norah Jones CD, but for O’Toole, the New Wave retro categorization is one he is still coming to grips with.
“People think retro-’80s are cool again,” he says during an interview with the Irish Voice. “When I used to hear that I would cringe. But now I think its great.
“There’s a lot of great music out there. You had some crap like Kajagoogoo, but there is great stuff like Simple Minds, the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen as well. My influences are U2 and Radiohead. Feargall loves Thin Lizzy, while Tom loves R&B and Mimi likes pop and rock.
“So, when we write and jam, I think we are able to bring all those influences into play to form an Audio Fiction sound.”
According to the band’s website, “Ferg writes happy songs, Anthony and Mimi write deep, depressing songs, Mark writes witty depressing lyrics and drum solos, and Tom laughs at the rest of the band.” The balance of diverse viewpoints makes for a tasty CD with a little something for all tastes.
“We look at this EP almost as a calling card,” says O’Toole. “There’s only six songs on this, so we picked the tracks so that there would be something for everyone on it. I think we are able to move into different styles while keeping your identity.”
Watching this band evolve should be a lot of fun. And that’s no fiction. To pick up a copy of the CD or to find out more about their upcoming fall tour, log onto www.audiofictionband.com.
Celtic Reader stand at the Sea Girt Irish Festival on September 11 and the Baltimore Irish Festival on September 18. For more information, log onto www.collared.net or www.celticreader.com.