Articles: Album reviews

03
The xx 'xx'
A review of the album xx by The xx Review Snapshot: This is a seductive, atmospheric affair tailor made for late nights, long stares and languid dancing. The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10 Full Review: Long player debutantes The xx are a quartet of 19/20 year old Londoners who’ve found themselves at the business end of some serious hype in recent months. Such levels of expectation in print media and across the blogosphere are rarely satisfied, refreshing then that an album which excels in the art of understatement, should do the trick. Instrumental opener ‘Intro’ gives way to a pop couplet of VCR and Crystalise. Smiley teenage anthems of flawless orthodontistry and sunkissed complexions they may not be, but in The xx world of 80s noir, they’re sure to be top of the pops. The shrugged shoulder slur of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s vocals is nothing short of intoxicating and lends an added intensity to their tales of teenage attr... [Read on]
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01
C O D E S 'Trees Dream in Algebra'
A review of the album Trees Dream in Algebra by C O D E S Review Snapshot:  A flawless debut for Dublin 4 piece C O D E S; Trees Dream in Algebra is one of those rare albums where the realisation matches the vision.   With its dreamy arrangements, soaring vocal harmonies and often heart stopping lyrics, Trees Dream in Algebra is the best Irish record in years.   The Cluas Verdict? 9.5 out of 10 Full Review: When I was given access to Trees Dream in Algebra for the first time, I must admit, I was a little nervous.  As anyone who knows me or who reads CLUAS will know, I've been raving about C O D E S for a long time now.  Could their debut record possibly live up to my expectations; would it match the energy and magic of their live shows?  I shouldn't have worried.  Trees Dream in Algebra is simply breathtaking.  Indeed, the only element of this record that is more impressive than the scale and sco... [Read on]
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29
Discovery 'LP'
A review of the album 'LP' by Discovery Review Snapshot: Vampire Weekend + Ra Ra Riot = Kanye West. The collaboration between a member of each of those bands comes up with a sort of indie R n'B sound. While the songwriting isn't up to the level of dedicated hitmakers in this genre, there's plenty to like here - including a swingbeat version of young Michael Jackson's 'I Want You Back'. The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10 Full Review: Side projects seem to be de rigueur for indie acts these days. So here's Discovery, the nixer of Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot. Those two bands would seem to go well together, sharing a love of melodic, thoughtful alt-guitar songs flavoured either with world sounds (VW) or chamber-pop cellos (RRR). Discovery, though, resemble neither parent group. 'LP' is a record of electro-tinted dancefloor R n'B in the manner of Kanye West or Rihanna or the innumerab... [Read on]
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19
Pearse McGloughlin 'Busy Whisper'
A review of the album Busy Whisper by Pearse McGloughlin Review Snapshot: Busy Whisper is a haunting collection of ten songs that reflect on those moments of longing that appear to happen in the peripheral.  Sparse without being bleak, Busy Whisper sees McGloughlin emerge as one of Ireland's finest song writing talents. The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: The name Pearse McGloughlin might not mean anything to you now, but I don't doubt that it will become a great deal more familiar when Busy Whisper makes its way on to many end of year 'best of' lists.  Full of ghostly compositions and tender melodies, it is hard to believe that Busy Whisper is a debut album and yet it is, perhaps, the finest Irish solo record I've heard since Damien Rice released O. I've always found that one of the most disappointing aspects of real life is that it doesn't come with its own soundtrack, unlike movies and TV.  If real life did have a ... [Read on]
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17
A review of the album 'The First Days of Spring' by Noah and the Whale Review Snapshot: The Twickenham based folk outfit return with a heartfelt second album. It proved a difficult second album, not in music terms but more in the feeling in the theme, which proves thankfully, that Noah and the Whale are here, for a while at least Cluas Verdict: 8/10 Full review: The first thing to note about “The First Days of Spring” is that Charlie Fink is sole vocalist.The second is that the record is definitely not like the first by the group, and the third is that the theme is not a happy one.The record opens with the title track. A strings intro accompanied by a clean electric guitar hook, immediately sets down the tone for the album. What strikes this reviewer is the incredible similarity between the sound of Fink’s vocals and those of David Kitt. Its no bad thing. The theme of the song is the potential for what should be a new beginning, hounded by a... [Read on]
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23
Taking Back Sunday 'New Again'
A review of the album 'New Again' by Taking Back Sunday Review Snapshot: 'New Again' is a typically poor album by a terrible North American band. Standard mainstream emo rock targeted at young teenagers that do not know better. There perhaps should be watchdogs set up to stop this practice. The Cluas Verdict?3 out of 10 Full Review: When I was listening to ‘New Again’, I was honestly hoping that my battery might die. I was wishing that the annoying sound of Taking Back Sunday’s latest album would give way to the drone of commuter rail. Alas no. I persevered however and gave the band a chance. After all, I did not care for ‘Closer’ the first time I heard it at 14. My ears have deceived me before. I can now say though, that Taking Back Sunday are no Joy Division. They’re not even on a par with A Certain Ratio. ‘Bleed America’ - the record that launched a thousand terrible emo bands. Jimmy Eat World ha... [Read on]
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19
Dan Black 'Un'
A review of the album 'Un' by Dan Black Review Snapshot: A clumsy, witless attempt at dancefloor-friendly electro-rock, the solo record by The Servant’s lead singer is quite awful. No amount of effects and beats can disguise its tired rawk-isms and Blunt-esque vocals. Stay well away from it. The Cluas Verdict? 2 out of 10 Full Review: You might know Dan Black as the singer with The Servant, who had some minor success with singles like ‘Liquefy’ and ‘Orchestra’. With this solo album, Black is closer to dancefloor electro-rock than the guitar emo-ness of his now-defunct band. Riffs are heavily treated and rhythms scurry frantically out of a box. And the title, ‘Un’, implies that this record is not like his previous work and perhaps (if one counts in French) the first step in a new direction. In truth, though, the touches of electronica are merely dressing up the same old formulaic rock of The Servant. The writi... [Read on]
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19
Alela Diane 'To Be Still'
A review of the album 'To Be Still' by Alela Diane Review Snapshot: The Californian folk singer-songer steps up a gear with a fantastic second album whose careful production and crafted songs are shot through with the haunting ache of her voice and the blissful innocence of her pastoral lyrics. 'To Be Still' has the feel of a classic. The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: Whatever the title of her new album may have you believe, Alela Diane Menig is not resting on her laurels. ‘To Be Still’, the young folk singer’s gorgeous second record, shows a significant development in production, arrangement and songwriting from the simple charms of her much-lauded debut, ‘The Pirate’s Gospel’. It’s apt that this album opens with a bass drum kick and a pedal steel lick, thus immediately distinguishing itself from its predecessor. Where Menig’s first record consisted mostly of her voice and acoustic guitar,... [Read on]
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14
Super Furry Animals 'Dark Days / Light Years'
A review of the album 'Dark Days / Light Years' by Super Furry Animals The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10 Full Review: A few months ago I compiled a playlist of my favourite Super Furry Animals’ tracks stretching back to their debut Fuzzy Logic right through to their most recent effort Hey Venus! Listening on shuffle, what struck me was the consistency in their back catalogue's sound. Every song happily stood by the next, as if they all could have appeared on the same record. SFA have been remarkably consistent in terms of their sound and the quality of their output, a trait that is exceptionally rare these days. Remember this is a band that formed around the same time Radiohead cut Pablo Honey. A band that has seen the rise and fall of so called “generation defining bands” like The Libertines, and one that has outlasted just about all of their Britpop contemporaries they were once called the alternative to. After sixteen years, nine albums, and four... [Read on]
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14
Graham Coxon 'The Spinning Top'
A review of the album 'The Spinning Top' by Graham Coxon Review Snapshot: 15 tracks of pure eloquence, beauty and expert finger-picking from the Blur guitarist's seventh solo album. This album documents the life story of a man from birth to death, and realistically could've either gone one of two ways: it could've been disastrous or it could've been fantastic. Fortunately, it's the latter. The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: 'The Spinning Top', the seventh solo offering from Blur's Graham Coxon, documents the life story of a man from birth to death. This album could easily be brushed aside due to the hustle of bustle of Blur's reunion overshadowing it. But this is typically Coxon's style, he never vies for the limelight and seems content with being the musical genius in the background. However, it would be a crime for this album to go unnoticed. There's a 60s vibe throughout, seemingly influenced by folk mus... [Read on]
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