Another in the long line of what could’ve beens for Irish alternative music in the 90′s, these guys occupy a very special place in the hearts of many. Not because of how good they were, and they were great, but that they truly represented an opportunity for Dublin to have a true band of underground heroes made good. Pet Lamb at The Attic was also my first ever proper gig. That was sometime in 1994 and it clearly stayed with me. Two full decades on!
These guys took the usual road to get to where they ended up – a few EPs on a local indie (co-owned by Andy Cairns admittedly); picked up by a “major” indie; sniff of the dream; then dropped while also suffering the misfortune of having a never-released album – 1996′s “High Anxiety” – which finally surfaced online in 2011.
They led a funny Dublin scene, an undefinable bunch of bands that to some were vanguards of the underground, but to me were always so close but not quite there; the likes of Mexican Pets, Jubilee All-Stars, Female Hercules et al. All great bands, but I was too young to be fully immersed in that scene, and from the distance of a teenage bedroom without access to live music on a regular basis, relying primarily on CDs and tapes, it was difficult to appreciate them next to the mainstream alternative barrage of the time from music television. Pet Lamb were lo-fi punks, a southern Therapy? in many ways, but the latter released their “Troublegum” in 1994. Pet Lamb didn’t release theirs. None of the bands in that particular scene did.
Their first EP, 1993′s “Paranoid from the Neck Down” set out their stall. “Little Meaner” and “Where Did Your Plans Go?” were raging and memorable punk songs. When they resurfaced on 1995′s Roadrunner debut LP “Sweaty Handshake”, accompanied by lead single “Black Mask”, it felt like something incredible was stirring.
They then headed off to record in New York, the aforementioned “High Anxiety” but were dropped by their label Roadrunner. They went on to release a 2nd LP on Blunt records called “Tenderness”, but by this time perhaps the world had moved on and while this album demonstrated an ability to progress from the early noise and anger, it just never happened for them. I had seen them live once more, in The Furnace in late 1995. They disappointed, and in researching this piece, I found a review from earlier that year which reflected what I had experienced – they’d stopped playing most of their great songs!
A loss to Irish music perhaps, victims of the Irish music press and industry’s relentless apathy towards heavier music, particularly of the domestic variety – (you can have signed to a UK or US indie label, but at that level you really could do with a few thousand sales and a few magazine covers back home as well). While they may never have merited huge success, they deserve a place very high up on the list of great Dublin bands. They, and the others mentioned above, were an inspiration to dozens of Dubliners back then to form bands and start recording and releasing their own songs, and they absolutely deserve to have their music kept alive, particularly at a time when it’s all just a click away.