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19 for ’19: Music City


We continue 19 for ’19 – our series profiling nineteen Irish acts that we’re certain will do great things in 2019 – with Music City, AKA Dublin power pop artist Conor Lumsden and co. Photo by Moira Reilly.

There’s this curious belief that pop music is easy. It’s simple, generic and any idiot with the ability to keep time can do it. But the truth is, it’s hard. Just because you can drip paint on a canvas, doesn’t mean you’re Jackson Pollack. Similarly, just because you can put the I-V-VI-IV progression over a basic beat, doesn’t make you Paul McCartney. So when you encounter good pop music, savour and treasure it. This applies doubly so for anything that attempts to strive for the same in the power pop mold. Artists in this bill have to somehow combine the quality craftsmanship and sugary sweet harmonies and songwriting craft of the 1960s with a pitch-perfect level of distortion and darkness. Any hint of mawkish sentimentality has to be eradicated leaving a finely honed, three-minute nugget of irony and honesty.  It’s a delicate balance that very few have ever fully captured consistently. All you need to do is look at Weezer’s back catalog to understand how wonderful and horrible things can be when playing with this kind of fire.

Music City, the moniker of Dublin’s Conor Lumsden, is a great example of how to do this right. While the band’s output is limited, their debut release, the Pretty Feelings single, is a sheer delight. With guitar, bass, drums, and vocals all recorded by Lumsden, the songs have this decidedly handcrafted and carefully considered sense about them. They’ve been made with love and dedication and they’ve earned the same from the listener. The titular A-side does everything that a song of this ilk needs to do. You’ve got Big Star’s harmonies, The Cars’ rhythms and that perfect level of fuzz that immediately pulls you in that right mindset. Lumsden has some serious fire in his belly and a great ear for melody. It’s always a delight when you find someone who can write songs this well. Best of all, he makes it look easy. Will Murphy