Def Nettle: DN001 review – Irish punk, funk, experimentalism and electro that steers clear of pastiche

Eclecticism is at the root of the Dubliner’s musical vision

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Artist: Def Nettle
Label: Self-released

This project evolved by the DJ and musician Glen Brady (DJ Wool/The Glass/Dark), a Dubliner who has lived in New York, Berlin and San Francisco, is rooted in eclecticism. The Beastie Boys and Butthole Surfers are key touchstones, and their sensibilities and playful irreverence are infused into the DNA of Def Nettle, which combines a particular type of Irish punk, funk, experimentalism and electro.

Don’t, with its squalling guitars, is leavened by Brady’s arresting baritone as he sings, “I don’t know what hit me, but I don’t hit back.” The Pills meets its urgency with Strokes-like smooth guitars. Invisible brings a subtle aggression. Boat Race is The Undertones meets Electric Six. God’s Trainers is more introspective, bringing to mind early Nirvana, with its wistful muscularity. Four Years weaves a delicacy through a difficult subject: femicide, and the appalling murder of Brady’s ex-girlfriend.

Much of the record explores serious life experiences, but the approach is unexpected; sometimes elements of new wave and postpunk meet a peppering of The The and Tom Waits, and while the spectre of a certain musical period in Manchester looms at times – Joy Division on Architecture, and The Smiths on War Machine (which actually features the late Andy Rourke on bass) – it strays away from being pastiche, and brings something of a vitality to well-trodden pathways.

Siobhán Kane

Siobhán Kane is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in culture