Thursday, March 28, 2013

(farcically late) best (irish) albums of 2012

1 - Twomilliondays - twomilliondays 

Can’t really praise this album enough. Too lazy to re-write so here’s the archived review I wrote back last ….April? :

And here's an informal interview-type thing with a bit of background/context from the musician behind the album:

"I'm not sure what to say really as regards concept.. i mean there is a narrative in the album somewhere but it's hard for me to articulate...i did intentionally start the album with 'float' and end with 'submerge' as i felt it needed to be encompassed somehow.. like a rite of passage when listening or something.. i like the idea of creating work that a listener can sit with from start to finish and get drawn into..there have been albums down through the years that left an impact on me for the way they opened and closed succinctly like a good massive attacks 'mezzanine' or my bloody valentines 'loveless' or can's 'cannibalism' or albums by bands like slint and godspeed you black emperor.

I've used banjos,accordions, flutes, guitars, kits, synths... the works... i enjoy having the freedom to not be labelled, track 2 ('Bouazizi') for example is largely composed of banjos and a xylophone.. so whilst its unorthodox for electronic music, i still wanted to experiment with the notion of using unorthodox combinations of sounds and find a way for it to work.. and i felt happy about the results...i do consciously think about what i'm looking to do when starting to record a track... i'll get inspired from some sound i come across and then want to explore it further and see what i can do with it..

all of the work was created between january 2011 and january 2012.. i had difficulty choosing how to put it all together.. i had been building up work and ideas...sound samples and grooves for years and years and i never gave any conscious thought or intention to releasing it... i've just always been creative and worked with sound as hobby.. "

2 - Katie Kim - Cover & Flood     (Flaming June)

An unsettling, fog-like ambience pervades double LP Cover & Flood, lending coherence to its stylistic turns - whether it’s the witching-hour folk of ‘Charlie’ and ‘The Feast’, the disarming balladry of ‘Pause’ and ‘Your Mountains’, or the enticingly short sketches and tape loops that tie the record’s narrative together. While she can be devastating when at her most direct, large stretches of Cover & Flood are absorbingly out-of-focus, painting illusory images; vocals sound eerily dislocated one minute,innocent and almost child-like the next. Shades of Ghost Box-esque experimentalism or Grouper’s hollowed-out beauty are evident, while elsewhere there are gospel flourishes (‘Dimmer’) and brittle, industrial-tinged atmospherics (‘Little Dragon’). Arguably the best moment is ‘Blood Bean’, its hushed vocals and sparse-but-detailed arrangement (distant echoing voices, found sound, gentle harmonies) sounding both soothing and vaguely sinister.

3 - Soil Creep - Small Death (Long Lost)

The latest project from Aidan Wall - who’s previously been behind the below-fi folk of Porn On Vinyl and the manic, harsh chiptune sounds of Hipster Youth - Soil Creep are pretty unique-sounding. With a fuller, beefier sound than either of those two aforementioned acts, for the most part Small Death sounds like a frayed, sparking middle-ground between scruffy lo-fi noise pop, rickety 4/4 rhythms, new wave touches and odd, hollowed-out anti-ballads: all chucked into an echo-chamber blender. The hooks are strong too, whether on the yodelling ‘Whitethorn’ or the breezy ‘(Deaf In Venice’); ‘Where (n) Meets Infinity’, meanwhile, is in a league all of its own, its squalling first act giving way to a trippy, viscous groove via a high-pitched music-box-like motif.

4 - Mumblin' Deaf Ro - Dictionary Crimes   (Popical Island)

Cut-and-paste from the review...
Family is the overriding theme of Dictionary Crimes – both the family you’re born into and the family you create. And as suggested by its artwork, the album doesn’t shy away from dark subject matter such as grief and sickness: ‘Little Mite’ depicts a couple who have suffered a miscarriage, while ‘The Harm’ and ‘The Birdcage’ portray the ravages of terminal illness.
However, while much talk has centred on the undoubtedly heavy lyrical themes, Dictionary Crimes doesn’t feel like a heavy album. There’s a sense of balance brought about by Hession’s depictions of fatherhood and family life (‘Cheer Up Charlie Brown’, ‘Being Bill Cosby’) with its routines, its small victories and its 'bullseye-certain' sense of purpose.

5 - Laura Sheeran - What The World Knows     (Flaming June)

C&P :

“I cried all day and I didn’t even get a kiss” is the arresting opening line on What The World Knows, but the album wastes no time in forcefully grabbing your attention. From the off, the sound palette recalls the ominous, malevolent textures that characterised Lust Of Pig standout ‘A Wake’. The opening title track and ‘Redlight’ are all guttural, juddering electronics and seething melodrama; the sinister feel of the latter further heightened by a dispassionate, robotic-sounding vocal. Which is an interesting inversion: on previous records Sheeran’s vocals have stood out as a turbulent, elemental force, whereas on the early stages of this album the dramatic instrumental backdrop is as much an indicator of inner turmoil - if not more so.

It doesn’t quite retain that sort of intensity throughout though - indeed, this is the musician’s most varied record yet. ‘Forever Love’ is possibly the best thing she’s done: a low, hypnotic drone and a quietly insistent rhythmic heartbeat framing a superbly measured vocal performance. Meanwhile, Sheeran’s impeccable ability to conjure mysterious imagery in your mind’s eye is as evident as ever on tracks like ‘Until Danger’s Gone’ and the ornate, classically-tinged ‘Hurricane’.

6 - Christian Bookshop - Christian Bookshop

Recorded in a pantry in Belmullet, Mayo over a two-week period, Christian Bookshop is the work of Jimmy Monaghan (Music For Dead Birds) and Aisling Walsh, dealing in charmingly bedraggled lo-fi folk. The duo's vocals complement and dovetail with each other nicely, lending tracks like 'Singin' Freebird' and 'Waste My Time (Thinking Of You)' an irreverent energy, one that situates the record far from folk miserabilism or over-earnestness. As do the frequently self-deprecating lyrics ("The world don't need another folk singer now, 
And I am just one more the world can do without, 
But it's all that I can do to keep my mind from turning blue, 
And actually it's all that I can do.") 
'Penitentiary' mines the same vein of spiky Sebadoh-isms that were a characteristic of the last Music For Dead Birds album, while the campfire anthemics of 'Waste My Time (Bluebirds)' stays on just the right side of tweeness. All this isn't to say the record lacks an emotional undertow though: Walsh's vocals are used more sparingly than Monaghan's, but her subtle harmonising is a pivotal feature of the excellent closing brace of tracks - 'Sleeping In Bars' and 'A Million Stars (These Kids)' - both of which add a layer of wistful melancholy to proceedings.

7 - Eomac - Tabula Rasa

8 - Sweeekers - Sweeekers Vol. 1 

9 - Rural Savage - I Fell In The Bog And Saw God  

10 - Lethal Dialect - LD50 Part II    (Working Class)

11 - Simon Bird - Sport   

12 - Sean MacErlaine - Long After The Music Is Gone   (Ergodos)

13 - KaraKara - Bully  

14 - Katie Kim - Vaults Vol.1   

15 - Skelocrats - The Complete Skelocrats   (Popical Island)

16 - Seamus Fogarty - God Damn You Mountain   (Fence Records)

17 - Dancing Suns - Goldmine     (Transplant)

18 - Woven Skull - Moods Of The Hill People   (Fort Evil Fruit)

19 - Bantum - Legion    (Eleven Eleven)

20 - Last Days Of 1984 - Wake Up To The Waves   (Osaka)

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