It can often be very difficult to know what band is going to make a break through or grab the attention of music fans and media every year. Sometimes the band that you expect to be the next big thing slip away into the background after some initial hullabaloo, and then other times acts can creep up and launch themselves into the consciousness of music fans in a big way.
One of the groups who seems to be on the cusp of making a breakthrough this year are Dundalk trio, The Mary Wallopers. The acoustic group, comprising of brothers Charles and Andrew Hendy, and Seán McKenna, first started to develop a reputation by playing music in pubs in their native Dundalk, with their first gig reported to have happened on St. Patrick’s Day in 2016 when they played a set in McManus’ bar. The band have been totally independent since their inception, and eventually having gotten sick of having to deal with the price of rental prices for gigs – have gone on to set up their own venue in a barn behind their houses. The venue has seen performances by Junior Brother and Myles Manley, among others.
The band is a far cry from the alternative iteration of Charles and Andrew Hendy who also frequently performed as hip-hop duo TPM.
Last July, The Mary Wallopers released their debut EP to the world. A Mouthful of The Mary Wallopers stands as a clear representation of the gulf between the music of The Mary Wallopers and the previous iteration of the band, TPM. A collection of traditional ballads and a capella, it is an effective introduction to the group for people who might not have been familiar up to this point.
The thirteen minute long EP is a collection of six ballads that showcase the musicianship of the three men in the group, and their ability to tap into that atmosphere of traditional music and folky ballads that is such a staple of Irish music culture.
The EP offers a look at the different sides of the band, with songs like Cod Liver Oil & the Orange Juice and As I Roved Out offering chances for foot stomping sing-a-longs, while this are contrasted with the a capella ballad Barbara Allen that showcases the sense of storytelling that is so integral to Irish folk music. The listener is also shown elements of their alter ego, TPM, as we see flashes of humour throughout the EP, making for an interesting and compelling listen.
With a full-length album reported to be coming later this year, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next from The Mary Wallopers.