CLUAS Album Reviews

Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Mar 12

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008  RssIcon

A review of the album 'Carry The Meek' by Ham Sandwich

Carry The Meek by Ham SandwichReview Snapshot: We could say that Ham Sandwich's debut is filling while having no filler, but that'd be very laboured and boring and 'Carry The Meek' is neither of those things. It's catchy and confident, drawing on '90s US college alt-pop and featuring an impressive performance from co-singer Niamh Farrell. With several radio-friendly singles already to its credit, this is the first of 2008's great Irish albums.

The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10

Full Review:
Ham Sandwich, a terribly bland name for a band? Au contraire! What other Irish act is getting this much attention just for their name? And it's surely no worse than calling your group something lame and unoriginal like Nirvana or Oasis.

At the other extreme, it's unfortunate that Podge McNamee's perceived wackiness has coloured many people's reaction to the band and their music. However crucial he may be to the band's visual image and live show, on record he couldn't be said to hog the limelight - he has few lead vocals, no epic guitar solos and there isn't any song here called 'My Name Is Podge'.

Contrary to those expectations, then, the Kells group's debut album is neither blandly boring nor irritatingly wacky. If anything, 'Carry The Meek' could have done with a bit more idiosyncrasy - it depends greatly on the familiar chugging rhythm of US indie bands of the last decade, and the slower tempo of the closing tracks (especially 'Sleep' and 'Thru The Grass') ends the album on a relative downer. That said, the anthemic 'Sleep' is a fine song, and second-last track 'Ashes' has an epic touch to it too.

The first half of the album has more character about it, thanks in no small part to the impressive Niamh Farrell. She swoons and soars her way through the charming 'St Christopher' and 'Keepsake' before turning on some serious rock n'roll attitude for 'Click... Click... BOOM!!!' The latter's thuggish bassline intro and triumphant chorus make it the album's standout track.

McNamee and his deep rumbling voice, as noted above, keep a relatively low profile and generally confines his vocals to backing or repeating Farrell's lines. Only in the middle of 'Never Talk' do the two sing different lyrics, and the song is all the more exciting for the dramatic tension it suggests. Perhaps this pair can capitalise on their strong personalities to greater effect in future, playing off each other more in their lyrics and arrangements to capture the two-up-front strike force of their live shows.

As for the album to hand, it's radio-friendly and well-produced by Karl Odlum, and the time devoted to recording it has paid off handsomely. And with all the attention lavished upon the band's two singers, let's not overlook main songwriter and bassist Johnny Moore, who has contributed some expertly-crafted pop songs (like 'Words') full of wistful romance and broken hearts.

Quite simply, this record sounds great. 'Carry The Meek' is a marker that other Irish albums of 2008 - and beyond - will have to match.

Aidan Curran

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13 comment(s) so far...


Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

It's quite a clever little record because it doesn't come together the way one might have expected. It's subtle without being boring and has lots to keep you coming back. I'll have this one on repeat for a while.

By Steve on   Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

I was surprised by the amount of really good songs on this album. Well worth the wait guyz. I'm listening to this album a lot also.

By Clever Trevor on   Sunday, March 09, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Very well put together album. Its sounds brilliant LOUD.

By Ro on   Monday, March 10, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Like Steve says, I was surprised by how subtle the album was. Bits of it kept popping into my head, and not necessarily the choruses or hooks - the sign of a great album.

By aidan on   Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

I don't think it's a good album. Yes it has ten well composed pop songs, but they're not outstanding in any regard. It lacks bite and originality and sounds very like something we would have heard from England five years ago.

It seems to be a feature of Irish bands of recent times that 'break through' (The Immediate and Director are also guilty of this), when they actually get to release an album they don't want to take the plunge to sound different and end up producing something very conservative. You need only look at the preceeding few comments, which are complimentary, but non-committal, in nature. It's very hard to love an album like this. 'Carry The Meek' is the sound of a band playing it safe, which is a great pity.

By IcaruS on   Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Icarus - I havnt heard Carry The Meek but I do intend on buying it as I like each of the singles that I've heard. To me HS' music doesnt sound ground-breaking, but it still (from what Ive heard) does sound quality and I certainly like what Ive heard on this page about the subtleness of the album. Thank god theyre not overly-wacky. The irish music scene can do without anymore pretentious wacky bands. But just in relation to your comment about The Immediate... Conservative? Gimme a break! Theyre album wasn't conservative. It was very unconcerned. I can think of very few albums that would rival its originality in past 3 years.

By Floodzer on   Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Oh I'm not trying to stop anyone buying the album. Far from it. Nor am I trying to change anyone else's opinion of music. They'd both be pointless exercises. All I can do is offer an alternate view. I'll back up your point on the wackiness. I've certainly had my fill of it over the last few years and I've stated as much on this website before. With regard to the Immediate's album. Original? Perhaps in relation to other albums from Ireland over the last fifteen years, yes it probably is quite original. But in relation to music coming out of anywhere else in the world it sounds very ordinary.

By IcaruS on   Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Each to their own I suppose. But surely even to say that a band has produced something more original than anything else that has come out of its local environment in the past 15 years is something worth recognizing?

By Floodzer on   Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

I don't think so. An album (or anything, for that matter) shouldn't be praised for being average when all its competition is below average.

By IcaruS on   Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Shit Sandwich

By Peter O Callaghan on   Saturday, April 19, 2008
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Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Peter, u r an idiot

By Steve McQueen on   Monday, August 04, 2008
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Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Great album! Seen them live at Guinness Storehouse, is even better!!

By Mickey D on   Tuesday, August 05, 2008
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Re: Ham Sandwich 'Carry The Meek'

Great album. Most together piece of music in Ireland this year. Carry the meek is a better album than Fight like apes' offering as a debut. 2 top bands.

By Debee MeGee on   Saturday, October 25, 2008

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