There’s something big bubbling in Limerick lads, and it doesn’t revolve around rugby or two boys with plastic bags over their heads. In early June, Van Panther crept out from the primordial soup of the Shannon and subtly released their latest EP, ‘Hark!’
Formed and fronted by singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, Kieran Ralph, Van Panther came to be due to crippling boredom suffered by Ralph following the break-up of previous band, Home Remedies. The Tipperary native recorded the majority of VP material as a solo project and went onto recruit an all-star team of local musicians to ensure live performances were to be as enjoyable as possible.
Guitarist, pedal-board enthusiast and general lovely lad Donagh Sugrue adds an element of glee to proceedings whilst continuously providing a unique but affable sound. Laya Meadhbh Kenny handles the bass duties with precision whilst also doubling as the band photographer and she’s joined in the rhythm section by the self-taught Cathal Ryan on drums.
What truly stands out is the band’s live performances. If you see their name pop up on a poster on Leeside in the next few months, do yourself a favour and go to the show. The aforementioned ‘Hark’ EP is a self-described “quest into poppier territory” and it’s executed brilliantly. Opening track ‘Haunty’ is a wonderfully vibrant piece, chaotic and reserved all at once. “Talking Pills in The Basement” is a merry jaunt into a more electronic part of town and this alongside closing track “Babel” are the stand out tracks. A personal favourite of mine is the irresistibly catchy “Thank God For Mental Illness” which can only be described as an absolute bop. This track, alongside many others can be found on the band’s Soundcloud which is a utter treasure trove of goodies.
Van Panther are ones to watch and they’re only going to get better. The song writing, musicianship and creativity involved is stellar, the clear direction of the band is notable and with their savvy pop-sensibilities, VP could go all the way.