There seems to be a huge amount of great Irish stuff at the moment. This year, we’ve already had terrific releases from Halves, Enemies, Weakling & King, Chequerboard and Michael Knight. But in the last few weeks, I’ve got my hands on some exciting new Irish albums. Of course, one of the most anticipated Irish releases this year is the forthcoming Jape album, ‘Ritual’. It includes a bunch of songs you’ll recognise if you’ve seen Jape over the last few years but the sound is less dancey and more guitar-based than I would have expected. In fact, my favourite song on the record is the quietest one, ‘At The Heart Of All This Strangeness’ – it’s pretty much just Richie and an acoustic guitar and it’s quite a lovely tender moment. You can watch a recording of it here that he recorded for Popmat.
So Cow has just released his second album, ‘I’m Siding With My Captors’ which packs 11 songs into 28 minutes. There are some cracking songs on it, like ‘Commuting’, ‘Halcyon Days’ and ‘Off Out’ but it feels a little slight. I would have liked it to be a little longer and I think his previous album, ‘These Truly Are End Times’ is probably a stronger piece of work on the whole (but I may well change my mind about that). I think Mr. Cow has improved his popsongwriting skills and this is a tighter and better-recorded record and I have a feeling his third album will be rather special.
The Jimmy Cake‘s third album, ‘Spectre & Crown’ is another one that doesn’t quite stand up to their previous release for me but that’s probably because ‘Dublin Gone, Everybody Dead’ is one of my favourite Irish albums of all time. The track ‘Jetta’s Palace’ is one of the best things they’ve ever done and there are some beautiful moments on the record but it doesn’t quite hold together in quite the same way as ‘Dublin Gone, Everybody Dead’. It does, however, have a beautiful cover and is a superbly-produced record what with all of it’s chiming pianos. From The Jimmy Cake to The Vinny Club, who release their/his tribute album to Rocky IV (‘The Rocky IV Reckyrd’) at the end of the month. The album is another short one, coming in at just over 25 minutes but realistically recreates the world of 1983 and is full of songs that make your head feel like a robot and cause uncontrollable movements of the arms. This is a good thing.
Jeff Martin (also of Halfset) released his album, ‘Spoons’ a couple of years ago but is just about to release an album of remixes, collaborations and interpretations by a host of other artists such as Isan, John McEntire, David Pajo, The High Llamas, Mice Parade, John Parish and many others. The guests I’ve mentioned will give you a good idea of what the record sounds like – it’s mostly rather laidback and very endearing. I have a feeling this is one that will grow in stature with each listen.
The Irish album that has impressed me most, however, is Crayonsmith‘s ‘White Wonder’. The album is packed full of top-notch pop songs, and the production is spot-on. Hopefully, this will gather word of mouth acclaim as it, unfortunately, seems to have not received the attention it deserves. Crayonsmith is the brainchild of Ciaran Smith who is joined by Ruadhan O’Meara and Ronan Jackson. You can watch my favourite song from the record below – ‘Bad Days Move On’.