The McCabes,
Whatever Makes You Tick
(self-produced, 2002)

The McCabes, a New York-based Irish band led by Irish native and singer-songwriter Sean McCabe, are certainly a very accomplished group. On Whatever Makes You Tick, they sound fantastic.

"Nashville" shows a lively sense of humour as they plan to head to the country-music capital to play in an Irish bar. They follow this with a great reel, very well performed and called "Get Reel." "Sunday Afternoon" is a chronicle of that day which will be very familiar to people living away from home.

"Sheila" definitely lets us know that the writer of this track lived in Dublin. It is a nice story-song about someone seeking a girl who may have "worked in the civil service and took the number 66 bus." This is a story of Ireland in the decades gone by. "The Maid Behind the Bar" is a lovely musical tribute to the girl who keeps bands and punters well-lubricated to sing along.

The story of Dublin life continues with "Happened This Way," but with a darker edge. This is played with an upbeat rhythm that belies the sad story that is all the more real for the matter of fact way it is performed. "Driving Around" recounts the story of a band gone straight (left music for a real job) and how they miss the craic.

The only track not penned by Sean McCabe is "Spanish Lady," and the band give us a very good version that shows their ability to tackle the traditional canon. The trumpet seems out of place at first but it grows on you. The title track tells of a band is put together and they play badly and pick up chicks. It is a good story-song that holds your interest and has a very nice musical interlude.

This CD may not set the charts alight but as a chronicle of life in the bands and clubs it is well worth a listen. The lyrics are witty and perceptive and the music is very well played.

- Rambles
written by Nicky Rossiter
published 30 November 2002

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