Thecoronas press 300

‘The Long Way’ is Coronas’ best yet

Unusually for an indie band, the Coronas have

recorded versions of their songs in the Irish language.

By Colleen Taylor

A corona isn’t just your favorite summer drink—it could be your favorite summer playlist too. “The Coronas” is the name of a Dublin-based rock band with a growing fanbase and a new album release. This group of four (Danny O’Reilly, Conor Egan, Graham Knox and Dave McPhillips) brings youth and vibrancy to Irish music and to modern day rock more generally. Their latest release, “The Long Way,” which hit music stores last year, might be a way to enliven your music library.

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The Coronas made a name for themselves in 2007 with the release of their debut album, “Heroes or Ghosts.” Like the best of Dublin’s local talent, they stirred up a buzz at the city’s greatest indie music venue, Whelan’s. At Whelan’s, they not only earned the attention of a number of Dubliner fans, but of 3ú records as well, the independent Irish label that produced their first album the following year. “Heroes and Ghosts” brought the Coronas the attention of music critics and a wider, national fan group, as well as a number of Meteor Award nominations. They followed “Heroes and Ghosts” with an impressive litany of productivity: a new album each couple of years, “Tony Was an Ex-Con” (2009) and “Closer to You” (2011). The latest is the “The Long Way,” and it is without a doubt their best yet.

What distinguishes their sound in 2014 from the earlier albums is a wider range of instrumentalization and harmonization. In the newest album, The Coronas show they aren’t afraid to harmonize, even beautify, their vocals, while maintaining that standard rock foundation. They don’t shy away from quieter, acoustic moments on this album. All in all, it’s made their sound more variable, less strictly rock and more indie-rock. “All the Others” is a particularly good example of the range: it combines a peppy rock chorus, quiet verses, and most importantly, an easy blend of high range vocals and aggressive bass. Some of the songs can sound somewhat similar, even formulaic from time to time, but there are some excellent standouts, and even the repetitive songs are well-executed. At any rate, this band has been noted to be at their best when playing live, and many of these songs are no doubt suited to a live setting. Still, something like “Just Like That” stands out as great track and is reminiscent of earlier ‘90s rock styles. “Get Loose” is the perfect feel-good, energetic song. It’s the type of song that undoubtedly gets the Coronas’ energized crowds moving.

The band has made a foray into Irish language with their music as well, which is something you don’t often see from an indie rock band. They recorded versions of several of their songs, as Gaeilge, in Irish, for Irish language compilation albums. The best of these is probably “Éist a Ghrá,” or “Listen Dear,” a peppy song that becomes more interesting in the Irish translation. It was released as a bonus track on their sophomore album as well. The Irish version of the title track off their first album is another arguably improved rendition of the English original.

The Coronas divide their time between the UK and Ireland. Both London and Dublin are the band’s urban bases. They have an extensive tour lined up for November, where they’ll be spreading their new work around the UK, from London to Manchester. But the band remains dedicated to their Irish roots, and they recently played a show for the Galway Arts Festival along with other Dublin superstar and bandmember Danny’s sister, Roisin O. At the end of the month, they have a gig lined up in Belfast before they had back to England for a short tour.

I wouldn’t say that the Coronas are breaking radical ground for Irish music—not yet anyway. Still, they are an objectively good rock band writing new original music for an Irish fanbase. At the end of the day, this is simply a talented Irish group that sounds current, modern, and international. Their new album, “The Long Way” is worth a listen—perhaps with a cold corona in hand for the sake of some self-reflective humor.

Colleen Taylor writes the Irish Echo’s “Music Notes” column.