The Minutes' debut album Marcata is a rock 'n roll record. Of that there is no denying. But where the Dublin band may differ from their contemporaries is that The Minutes are all about compressing their music to its bare elements - fuzzy rock riffs, meandering bass, pounding drums and spacy solos. The result of which is a dizzying collection of menacing tracks which will make your head spin and your foot tap.
The album is anchored with a granite-like guitar with significant nods to early Queens of the Stone Age (also Mark Austin's vocals don't sound unlike the disaffected croon of Josh Homme) but Marcata, named after the upstate New York studio where the tracks were laid down, isn't pastiche - it's as fresh and rewarding a rock record as you'll hear from an Irish band this year.
Black Keys, formerly a single a couple of years ago, makes a return and its pounding swagger is one of the highlights of the album. Current single Fleetwood has more of an airy feel to it before all its elements, including harmonica, converge into a rousing middle section before graciously easing you back down to earth before the song is over. Black and Blue (A Letter) too is The Minutes at their best and most engaging.
A cover of a century old blues tune In My Time of Dying, of which a different version also took residence on Zeppelin's Physical Graffiti, finds a comfortable home on Marcata.
The aggressive precision on Marcata makes this album stand out from the rest. This is an album as efficient as it is fun, there is not a wasted note nor does it lose track of itself by spending more time than is absolutely necessary on each track. It is as fine a rock record as you'd expect from Ireland, or any other country for that matter.