New Irish Stuff – Jape, Crayonsmith, So Cow, The Jimmy Cake, The Vinny Club, Jeff Martin, Cap Pas Cap v Problums

12 05 2008

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’.

And to end this Irish music round-up, here’s a link to hear a deadly remix of Cap Pas Cap‘s ‘Said Say It’ by Problums.

Albums to look forward to in 2008

2 01 2008


My Bloody Valentine – Title TBC  Due Sometime 2008

Apparently, this is mostly done. According to Kevin Shields, it’s a continuation of the record they started in the mid-nineties, which he then described as ‘like drum & bass at 33RPM’ with some new tracks as well. Hopefully, it’ll be out in time for the gigs this summer which is all very exciting. There are some bands you’d hate to see recording together again (The Pixies, The Smiths)  but My Bloody Valentine are one band that just might pull it off.

Portishead – Title TBC (Rumoured Title: ‘Alien’) Due April 2008:

This looks like it could well be a stonker. They played some of the new material at their recent ATP appearance and reports all-round were excellent. You can see one of the tracks, Peaches here which is excellent and other tracks I’ve heard also seemed rather wonderful and very different for Portishead. Everything sounds much more upbeat and it seems like 60’s psychedelia may be a key influence on the record. But we’ll have to wait and see…

Goldfrapp - The Seventh Tree Goldfrapp – ‘Seventh Tree’  Due February 2008:

Having heard much of this, I have to say I’m really looking forward to it. I was a big fan of ‘Felt Mountain’ but have been fairly indifferent to anything since. But the new material is stripped-down and more ethereal with a Beatles/Cocteau Twins influence on the material I’ve heard. A&E is the first single to be released from the album and is already getting regular play on Phantom 105.2.

Los Campesinos – ‘Hold On Now Youngster’  Due February 2008:

It feels like a lifetime since I first heard their demo’s and got very excited by Los Campesinos!, which is unfortunate because a lot of their songs seem old to me now and they seem to be over-doing the twee factor the more I learn about them. But I’m still holding out hope that they’ll pull a great album out of the bag, I’ll forgive them their tweeness-overload and it’ll all be okay again. They play The Village on February 11th 2008

Cap Pas Cap  – Title TBC  Due Sometime 2008

They originally claimed that their album would be released in 2007 along with a split 7″ but neither made an appearance. In fact, their only release of the year was a re-press of their 2006 ‘Not Not Is Fine’ EP. Hopefully, it won’t take too much longer and we’ll be rewarded with releases in the near future. Hurry up, would you?

The Jimmy Cake The Jimmy Cake – ‘Spectre & Crown’  Due February 2008

The Jimmy Cake finally get around to releasing their follow-up to ‘Dublin Gone, Everybody Dead’, which is now six years old. They recently played some of the new tracks on The Indie Hour which sounded more piano-led and almost simpler than The Jimmy Cake you might be used to.

The Breeders: ‘Mountain Battles’  Due April 2008:

Steve Albini is involved and it includes a song in Spanish and a song in German. They play Dublin on April 7th 2008 in The Ambassador.

 Jape – Title TBC  Due: Feb/March 2008

Another one that fells like it’s taken an age to come out but hopefully it will be well worth the wait. Presumably, their current set will make up the bulk of the record which has to be a good sign. Songs like ‘Gimme Some More’, ‘I Was A Man’ and ‘Strike Me Down’ are all absolute stompers so it’s hard to see how this one can fail.

Wild Beasts – Title TBC  Due: Sometime 2008

Wild Beasts are a band that a lot of people are going to despise. Funny high-pitched vocals, bizarre lyrics and a general atmosphere of feyness abounds but I think they’re one of the most exciting new bands around. All three singles to date have been first class so I can’t wait to see what they do with a full-length.

Dexy’s Midnight Runners – Title TBC  Due: Hopefully 2008

Dexy’s are a long-time favourite of mine and ‘Searching For The Young Soul Rebels’ is one of my favourite albums ever. I saw a re-formed Dexy’s a few years ago and was sorely disappointed and this is a record I would have been worried about except that the new song Kevin Rowland has up on his Myspace page (‘It’s OK Johanna’) is fantastically deadly so perhaps all is not lost yet.

Foals Foals – Antidotes  Due: March 2008

This is a band that could still go either way for me. I have loved some of their tracks while others have left me cold. I’m glad to see that the tracklisting includes the track that got me excited about them in the first place – ‘The French Open’ and doesn’t include the underwhelming single, ‘Mathlethics’.

Vampire Weekend – Vampire Weekend  Due: Jan 2008

They certainly stick out like a sore thumb from everything else that’s going on at the moment with their Afro-Beatles sound. You’re going to hear about them constantly for the next few months and endless reviews mentioning Paul Simon’s Graceland album but if their debut is as good as ‘Mansard Roof’ and new single ‘A Punk’, then it could well be worth the hype.

The Smiths – Boxset  Due: Late 2008

Johnny Marr confirmed towards the end of the year that he and Morrissey are compiling a boxset supposedly due for relese in 2008. Marr hoped it would include unreleased versions of tracks including some of the never-officially released Troy Tate demos and alternate versions and unrelesaed session versions of tracks. It won’t feature any new tracks but it may also include a DVD of unreleased live footage of the band.

Messiah J & The Expert – Title TBC  Due: Summer 2008 

I have to declare an interest here as I’m involved with the band  (See here) but I have heard a lot of the album and I think it sounds very exciting.

Other bands/artists that will hopefully release new records this year include Boards of Canada, Stereolab, Joanna Newsom, Broadcast, Edan and Boom Bip (His ‘Sacchrilige’ EP of last year was the best thing he’s ever done but I’m less keen on Neon Neon, his recent collaboration with Gruff Rhys). There’s always a few surprises and I’m sure this time next year I’ll be praising albums from 2008 by artists I don’t even know exist yet. That’s the fun part.