Back in March of this year, while sitting on my bed looking out the window at the heavy snowfall that had been caused by Storm Emma, I randomly came across a tweet by talented Irish songwriter, James Vincent McMorrow, who was praising the new single by an up and coming Dublin rock band. The song? Favourite. The band? Pillow Queens
Pillow Queens, who formed officially in 2006 when after a series of jamming sessions together they felt there was something special about the four of them making music together. Shortly afterwards they would release their debut EP, a three track collection entitled Calm Girls that sparkled with energy and enthusiasm.
There was a sense that even at this early stage they knew what they were trying to do.
The bands live shows are instantly compelling. The band is made up of Pamela Connolly (vocals and guitar/bass), Cathy McGuinness (vocals and guitar), Rachel Lyons (drums), and Sarah Corcoran (vocals and guitar/bass), and when you watch them perform there is an effortless chemistry between the different musicians on the stage.
2017 would be the year that people would begin to become properly aware of the name Pillow Queens, with the band playing sets at Electric Picnic and Body & Soul as well as a series of dates across Ireland and the UK. 2017 would also see the band receive their first proper radio play – with many commentators lauding the freshness and enthusiasm of their music. There was a sense of a hype starting to build.
The State of the State EP that would be released in March 2018 would be another important step forward for the band, and would demonstrate a sense of development and enterprise since the Calm Girls release. There is a sense of realism and authenticity with all of these songs, as the band leave the listener in no doubt of what they are trying to say or do with their music.
The EP opens with the fantastic Puppets, a song that addresses the lack of control that many people feel as they live in post-recession Ireland. There is an honesty to the track that makes it instantly relatable to anyone who has ever felt trapped in a situation where they feel they have no control what is happening around, and to, them. Also, there is no way that this track could be discussed without drawing reference to the frankly mind blowing guitar by Cathy McGuinness throughout the song.
The extended play then flows beautifully into the aforementioned Favourite. This will feature for many as one of the stand out tracks of the year as another prime example of the musicianship and lyricism that the band possess. The vocals in this song are also extremely strong and there is something lovely about actually hearing a proper Irish accent in music at the moment. You’ll have this playing in your head on repeat after just one listen.
Cuckoo is one of the more playful compositions on the album, with welcoming and bright guitar rifts and drumming patterns helping to support the sing-a-long nature of the track.
The EP then closes with Ragin’, another song that demonstrates the background that the band comes from in a most delightful way. The song talks about troubles in a relationship using Dublin colloquialisms in the most glorious way – matched again with some fantastic instrumentation.
Music has seemingly evolved in recent years, with synth beats and computer generated bass lines becoming more and more prevalent on the radio airwaves. While this is definitely not necessarily a bad thing, it does leave some of us wishing that guitar music had not seemingly sunk back in the background, Pillow Queens are one of the bands doing their best to remind us that it still has a very important role to play.