You’ve GOT to Hear This: “The Altered Hours”

The Altered HoursI’ve always wondered why so many people turn up to a gig an hour or two after the venue opens its doors; if I took this approach, I’d have never heard some of my favorite bands. For example, the first time I heard Cork-based The Altered Hours was downstairs in the Roisín Dubh, where they were playing a support slot for O Emperor. I didn’t know any of the bands playing that night, but I left feeling quite satisfied with the night’s outcome. However, had I arrived an hour or two later, just before the headlining act took to the stage, the night would never have been quite as memorable.I recently attended a show in the Ruby Room of the TF, Castlebar, and The Altered Hours featured on the line-up. To prepare for the gig, I found myself listening to the Downstream EP, the band’s debut release, which had somehow evaded my detection until just a couple of weeks ago.

I had completely forgotten how much I enjoyed their music. I find it a little difficult to sum it up, but I suppose calling it hypnotic psych rock with elements of shoe-gaze would be a fair description. From the moment I pressed play, I was immersed in the swirling sounds and textures of the EP, from the somewhat dissonant chaos at the opening of The Balancing Act, the first track of the EP, to its close with the somewhat haunting vocal chants of Wicked Sun and everything in-between, I couldn’t tear myself away. The first time I listened to the EP, I had to hear it again. For the next few weeks, until I was able to get my hands on a physical copy of the release, I kept the band’s Bandcamp page open on Chrome so that I could listen to the EP whenever I wanted.

Even now, listening to Downstream causes a somewhat meditative state to consume me. It’s kind of amazing.

The band recently released a new single called Sweet Jelly Roll, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s a worthy successor to Downstream; it maintains the band’s laid back, hypnotic approach, while having matured enough from both an emotional and musical perspective to avoid the apparent stylistic stagnation a lot of new bands seem to suffer from following their first release.

Follow the band on Facebook.

You can buy/stream the Downstream EP here.

You can check out Sweet Jelly Roll, on their SoundCloud.

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Vincent Hughes

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