Tuesday, December 14, 2010

top 20 Irish albums 2010

1 - The Redneck Manifesto - Friendship

(see main list, #3

2 - Jogging - Minutes

(main list #4

3 - Nouveaunoise - Paraphrase Accolade

(main list #7

4 - Solar Bears - She Was Coloured In

(main list #18

5 - Thread Pulls - New Thoughts

Gavin Duffy and Peter Maybury are 'only nearly a rock band', utilising a sparse though powerful stylistic approach that's dominated by pounding percussion and deep, throbbing basslines. The sinister-sounding grooves and hypnotic patterns they create are occasionally leavened by synths or trumpet loops, but overall it's a minimal, skeletal sound. Think Drum's Not Dead-era Liars or These New Puritans without the rubbishness.

Weight by thread pulls

6 - Adebisi Shank - This Is The Second Album Of A Band Called Adebisi Shank

"Developing and fleshing out their already distinctive sound with all manner of extra instruments and flourishes, the Wexford trio pull off the deftest of balancing acts: dazzling, dizzying experimentation co-exists with infectious hooks and rhythms; punchy, gargantuan riffs collide with electronic pulses; atmospheric numbers rub shoulders with adrenalized thrashers. ‘Genki Shank’ builds superbly from a rumbling, floor-shaking bassline to a full-on tour de force featuring winding guitar lines and possessed-sounding vocoders. ‘(-_-)’ is a mellow, hypnotic pause for breath with all manner of ambient sound effects and an insistent, looping drum beat. Closing track ‘Century City’ ends with an ace electronic freak-out, while if there’s anything on Battles’ next album that’s as jaw-dropping as ‘Logdrum’, we’ll eat our hats." - (Ragged Words)

7 - Cathy Davey - The Nameless

The Nameless is a gripping, engaging album from start to finish. Davey has a truly inimitable, idiosyncratic aesthetic and style of delivery, and the song-writing on her latest record glows with self-assurance and confidence. Ranging from the pure pop thrills of 'Little Red' (which, despite its hook-filled immediacy, seems to sound better and better with each listen) to the dazzling baroque flourishes of 'Army of Tears' to the deceptively jaunty 'Happy Slapping' and the grandstanding sweep of 'Universe Tipping', this is the Dublin songwriter's first truly great album (although the first two weren't far off).

8 - Popical Island - Popical Island #1

Road Records labelled it 'Ireland's very own 2010 version of the legendary C86 cassette'. On their first compilation, the Popical Island collective provided a treasure trove of pop delights: Tieranniesaur's breezily funky and infectious 'Sketch!'; the vintage minor-chord indie vibe of Koalacord's 'Hell Bent On It'; the elegant, drowsy sweep of Pantone247's 'Maybe Tonight'; Land Lovers' off-kilter, Coral-recalling 'Is Nowhere Far Away Any More?'; the colourful, spiky 'Compete and Wrestle' from Feed The Bears (now sadly defunct): the list goes on. An eye-opening, dazzling compilation.

9 - Halves - It Goes, It Goes (Forever & Ever)

Echoing the orchestral dynamics of Sigur Ros in places or the vocoderised melancholy of Rock Action-era Mogwai in others, Halves produced a haunting, hypnotic record that utilised an array of instrumentation and vocals, from brass, strings and harp to 27-strong Kilkenny choirs and cult indie heroes. It was all in service of their own brand of intricate atmospherics, though: witness the soothing, lullaby-like 'Only Safe Landings' or the eerie horror-movie vibes of 'Don't Send Your Kids To The Lakes'. The bleak, barren-sounding 'Growing & Glow' was a song worthy of the vocals of Amy Millan, which is just about the highest praise you can give.

Growing & Glow by halves

10 - Strands - Strands

"...mellow and low-key, but neat instrumental flourishes and absorbing dynamics grab you and reel you in...It may be electronically influenced, but it sounds utterly organic, glowing with pastoral ambience. There’s many a highlight: ‘Chow Bell’ features a looping, lulling vocal hook and gradually overlays it with layer upon layer of meticulously-judged instrumentation. The effect is trance-like, and it’s a recurring feature on Strands. ‘The Alamo’ throbs gently, chiming hooks intertwining with strings and piano. The aptly-named ‘Tremor’ is a masterclass in minimalism; it’s shimmering, quivering pulse like taking an aural bath...The more you listen to this debut, the more its title starts to make perfect sense: there are so many threads here waiting to unravel that with every listen you notice a little touch or well-placed effect that had previously passed you by." - (Ragged Words)

11 - Shit Robot - From The Cradle To The Rave

Referred to by James Murphy as 'the godfather of DFA Records', transplanted Dubliner Marcus Lambkin came up with the dancefloor-slaying goods on this, his debut long-player. It mightn't come as a revelation for anyone familiar with the music of LCD, Hot Chip, The Juan MacLean et al (all of whom contribute), while some of these tracks have been around for as long as four years, but as an extension of the DFA sound this is pretty faultless, infectious stuff. Highlights include the smouldering workout 'Grim Receiver', the sprawling, guitar-infused 'Triumph!!!', and the Nancy Whang-featuring disco house track 'Take 'Em Up'.

12 - Meljoann - Squick

" appealingly stripped-down, subtly infectious sonic brew. Opening track ‘So Academic’ is a perfect scene-setter, overlaying earworm percussion with beguiling vocals and wonky synths. ‘E.X.I.T.’ follows suit with chiming, slinky hooks seemingly invading every part of the mix; the understated chorus sweeps in perfectly, and it’s as if all the intricate touches and tics are in perfect harmony... ‘The New Thing’ features cooing, almost-whispered harmonies and an all-round chilled, hypnotic vibe; while ‘Forward Dream’, essentially the closing track if you discount the short instrumental piece ‘Regeneration Plug’, is a soothing, strangely poignant and lingering piece." - (Ragged Words)

Forward Dream by peteranthonycorway

13 - Melodica Deathship - Doom Your Cities, Doom Your Towns

Taking hip-hop techniques down some weird, compelling avenues in much the same way as Buck 65 did on his classic Talkin' Honky Blues, Doom Your Cities, Doom Your Towns is a sinister, atmospheric, sprawling album (conceptually based around the elemental force of the sea) that takes in a number of influences, musical and otherwise: dub, sea shanties, pirate imagery, electronica, traditional Irish folk music, John Carpenter's The Fog...Despite the seemingly incompatible elements, it's a surprisingly coherent record, with the titular melodica proving a crucial, haunting element.

14 - Windings - It's Never Night

"Opening track ‘Lil’ Hands’ emphasises the different terrain Ryan is mapping out here: mellow, understated and wistful, its lyrics reflect on the passage of time while its chiming guitars create a warm, lulling atmosphere. Elsewhere, ‘Apologia’ is a hushed, wracked confessional that sporadically gives way to bursts of guitar squall, while ‘I Can’t Breathe’ tells a tale of gentle infatuation over gently-plucked acoustics. It’s not all in that kind of vein, however...The terrific ‘Poor in the Mouth’ is a furious riffer that could easily pass audition for a Giveamanakick record. The centrepiece of the record is ‘These Horses Also Ran’: initially a mid-tempo affair with soothing, quietly absorbing harmonies; over the course of its seven-minute duration it grows and builds to an expert crescendo...a record that proves Ryan is just as impressive a songwriter when he turns the volume down." - (State)

15 - Enemies - We've Been Talking

While nothing else on We've Been Talking quite reached the majestic level of 'Nag Champa', this was intricate, restrained and surprisingly melodic instrumental post-rock, and a welcome addition to the Richter Collective catalogue. Enemies proved themselves adept at building atmosphere steadily and patiently, frequently interjecting flurries of guitar noise.

16 -
The Cast Of Cheers - Chariot

Taking everyone by surprise when it was released free of charge on Bandcamp, Chariot was a spiky, energetic, urgent record where Foals-like math-rock guitar lines collided with hardcore pounding, yelping vocals and frenzied electronics. An almost overwhelming whirlwind of sound that was even more powerful when you saw them live.

17 - Drunken Boat - Concrete Canyons

Dealing in fuzzy, grunge-tinged alt-rock, Concrete Canyons revelled in guitar texture, with the songs frequently marked by violent squall or slowcore tones. Beneath it all were some aching melodies and a subtle emotive heft.

18 - Ann Scott - Flo

A record that passed under a lot of people's radars this year (it could have done with a bit more promotion, in fairness). Scott's vocals, reminiscent of Beth Orton, sound as terrific as ever, whether on the dark, gothically tinged 'Killerman', the dreamily atmospheric 'Universe' or the gorgeously weary-sounding 'Lost'. There's impressive attention to detail here, with subtle instrumental touches and flourishes throughout, whether it's cello, piano or backing vocals from Gemma Hayes.

19 - Not Squares - Yeah OK

"‘Smith & Carlos’ hits on a liquid, irresistible groove, overlaying it with sleek synths and a vocal hook that calls to mind The Rapture at their peak. It’s the first in a string of tracks that show why the band has been getting so much positive attention. The aforementioned ‘Asylum’ is propelled along by dancefloor-slaying bass and Foals-like guitar lines, while ‘Don’t Do Nothing’ is a throbbing, cowbell-flecked number reminiscent of James Murphy’s punkier moments...Closing track ‘53’ is a seriously impressive parting-shot, its shimmering slow-build giving way to a sinister bassline and frantic electronic coda." - (Ragged Words)

20 - Ham Sandwich - White Fox

After the loss of a founding member of the band and the death of their beloved manager, it was good to see Ham Sandwich return with a second album that sounded as vibrant and assured as their striking debut. Less gothic and heavy this time around, tracks like 'OH OH' and 'Animals' showcased breezy pop hooks and chiming guitars. However, it was the slower-tempo tracks that really impressed: the superb 'Ants' and 'Models' called to mind the twilit, world-weary atmospherics of The National, while Niamh Farrell's vocals sounded more sublime than ever on the swooning closing track 'Floors'.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic choices. Need to listen to that Ann Scott record again I think.