throw back | oppenheimer

Name: Oppenheimer
Genre: Noisy-Pop
For Fans Of: They Might Be Giants, The GO! Team, Broken Bells
Location: Belfast

When you consider how small a city like Belfast is, it's quite incredible how regularly we seem to punch above our weight in terms of producing great bands. Since Encore NI's inception back in 2013 (wow) we've seen the difficult nature of the music business at first hand. We've seen some incredible bands come and go, tour to the point of exhaustion and then tour some more, and sadly, disband too. It's a sad fact that not every deserving band/artist makes that leap into the mainstream, but whilst this is an unfortunate truth to deal with, we can take comfort in the fact that the music remains. Here at Encore NI we want to celebrate that, and so brings us to the first in a short series of 'throwback' pieces, where we celebrate a great Northern Irish band who are no longer together. 

Oppenheimer were an electronic band active from early 2004, made up of Rocky O'Reilly and Shaun Robinson. Whilst now we perhaps take our electro-pop scene for granted, in the early 2000's it was a rarer occurrence to get a band as creative as the two piece. Weaving hook-heavy soundscapes of synth and melody, Oppenheimer's shimmering pop music laid down much of the blue-print for many of our strongest bands today. Adopting an optimistic approach, this was a band dealing in pure joy, with an 80's touch. The local scene also owes a lot to Oppenheimer for their focus on emerging talent, running a competition to support them at the old 'Spring & Airbreak' (Limelight) back in 2009; a competition won by none other than a certain Wonder Villains, who would later name their debut album 'Rocky' in ode to the man behind the vocoder.

Though it's not just Derry's power-pop hero's that owe something to the band, however. Oppenheimer's unique sound has found it's way into many of today's current crop, with the likes of Team RKT, Shadow Police and In An Instant all adopting a similar approach to modern pop, with a delicate touch and a focus on melody. 

Pushing on from those early Belfast shows, Oppenheimer would go on to sign to a major record label, release two successful albums and tour throughout Europe and the United States. Their blissful tunes also began finding their way onto our Television sets, and if you're one of the millions of people around the world to have seen 'How I Met Your Mother' and 'Ugly Betty' then there's a good chance you've heard some of the duo's music already. 

Whilst Shaun Robinson has since moved to New York, Rocky O'Reilly remains in Belfast, producing bands and artists in Start Together Studio's, whilst occasionally making the odd record (see 'Malibu Shark Attack' for more) in his spare time.

A special band, for a special time, Oppenheimer's legacy still remains today ~ have a listen to their live album from 2009, to hear why. 

Taylor Johnson

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