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Mumford & Sons 'Sigh No More'
A review of the album 'Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons Review Snapshot: This London folk foursome presented their first album, 'Sigh No More', at the beginning of this month, following in the footsteps of the contemporary Noah and the Whale, and echoing the forlorn vocals of Neil Young. Mumford & Sons' unique brand of indie-folk, with edgy lyrics and widely varied music, will not be everyone's favourite, but for the more eclectic, this is an absolutely brilliant debut from a promising band.  The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: I readily confess that I’m not a huge fan of folk music. I’ve never really considered the banjo as a serious instrument, and had someone asked me what I thought of the genre, I would have raised an eyebrow and said that I wasn’t that into it. I was surprised, then, by this album, which I immediately liked. It mixes traditional-sounding introductions with thunderous climaxes, replete with ro... [Read on]
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19
The Swell Season 'Strict Joy'
A review of the album Strict Joy by The Swell Season Review Snapshot:  At times underwhelming and familiar, 'Strict Joy' brings nothing new to the table and deals with much of the same subject matter as The Swell Season's previous albums. While people who were already fans will probably find this album enjoyable it did very little to grab the attention of this reviewer's ears. The Cluas Verdict? 5 out of 10 Full Review:  Since the success of 2007's 'Once' Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, aka The Swell Season, who both starred in the film and composed the soundtrack, have become highly regarded members of the Irish music scene. Hansard, portraying a struggling busker on Dublin's Grafton Street, and Irglová his love interest and a fellow musician in 'Once', raised their profile considerably and garnered much international attention, particularly in America. Their Oscar winning track from the 'Onc... [Read on]
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17
Day Two Hard Working Class Heroes 2009
Oliver Cole, Escape Act & Others (live in Temple Bar, Dublin) Review Snapshot:  Day two of Hard Working Class Heroes involved quite a bit of venue shifting but was all the better for it.  The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: Thankfully, my leg felt a great deal better and so venue-hopping was not going to be as much of a problem as it was on Day One of Hard Working Class Heroes 2009.   Oliver Cole - The Button Factory Oliver Cole certainly knows how to write a tune.  Tonight, Cole's set consists of songs taken from his yet to be released debut solo LP such as Little Bad Dream, A Drug Song and, the title track, We Albatri.  His ear for melody is second to none and it would be impossible to watch an Oliver Cole gig without wanting to sing-a-long and tap your foot.  That being said,  it was such a shame that Cole was on so early as his stage presence and interaction with the crowd is much more suited to late... [Read on]
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17
Hard Working Class Heroes 2009 Day 1
Villagers, The Ambience Affair & Others (live in Temple Bar, Dublin) Review Snapshot:   The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: While my intention had been to make my way between various venues during the first day of Hard Working Class Heroes 2009, a strained muscle (one week before my first marathon) meant that I was restricted in my endeavours.  It was clear early on that the place to be was Andrew's Lane which featured three of the four bands I really wanted to see tonight anyway.  While it was disappointing not to be able to see Dark Room Notes' set in The Button Factory, the intensity of Subplots and the raw talent of both The Ambience Affair and Villagers more than made up for it. Subplots There was quite a chatty crowd in place as Subplots took to the stage in Andrew's Lane.  The band's record, Nightcycles, is one of my favourites this year.  However, I was worried that their carefully crafted... [Read on]
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16
Joshua Radin (live in The Academy, Dublin) Review Snapshot: It was always going to be interesting to see if Radin’s quiet yet absorbing melodies along with his whispery vocals could translate well to the stage. Unexpectedly but brilliantly, it transcended into an appreciated and intimate gig as you could hope to see, in a criminally underrated venue.  The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: Like many others, I discovered Joshua Radin’s music playing in the background of the more touching scenes in the TV show Scrubs. (Hey, good music can be found anywhere, right?) And good music is exactly what I found; some say the answer to Elliott Smith’s sad departure in 2003. But Radin is a breath of fresh air on his own with an addictive folk ethic on debut album “We Were Here” which is now improved by a pop-rock element on his more recent release “Simple Times”. It was quite a happy coincidence recently getting hooked on his music ... [Read on]
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16
Pearl Jam 'Backspacer'
A review of the album Backspacer by Pearl Jam Review Snapshot: If you want the smooth waves of the surf, some rocking little riffs and more fine songwriting from Eddie Vedder, then Backspacer is for you. Die-hard fans like myself ought not to be disappointed.  The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: What's not to like about Eddie Vedder? Surfer, writer, and a mysterious creature that puts forth his vision of the world with a voice that has only grown better with age. More importantly, Vedder is the iconic figure in Pearl Jam, the Seattle rock band that survived the 90s and have become enriched as the group continues to play to sold-out venues. Backspacer represents a mellowing of the group, with lyrics that reflect a more relaxed Vedder. As if to prove this, the album bursts forth not with the heady rushes of a track like 'Go' , but rather with a Johnny B. Goode style blues riff on 'Gonna See My Friend.' This slice of home-grown Amer... [Read on]
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16
Fnessnej 'Stay Fresh, Ey'
A review of the album Stay Fresh, Ey by Fnessnej Review Snapshot: A compelling collage of sounds from a German five-piece whose name is almost impossible to pronounce. Part chip-tune, part post-rock, Stay Fresh, Ey is a playful album that offers new delights on each listen. The Cluas Verdict? 9 out of 10 Full Review: Some song titles aren't made for memory. '1360280' is a fine example of this. But then when the artist's name appears equally scrambled, it all starts to make sense. Whisking together seemingly incongruent flavours is a speciality of Fnessnej. The quintet's music is self-described on their website as 'instrumental postkutsche rocknroll elektroge frikkelballer post blahabblaha'. Quite the mouthful. Fnessnej are masters of blending bleeps and ticks, rock riffs, synth sounds and syncopated drumming on a rich palate of musical fervour. The album's first track 'Duplex Knaller' begins playfully, with four short clownlike... [Read on]
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14
AFI 'Crash Love'
A review of the album 'Crash Love' by AFI Review Snapshot: The Californian rock veterans make a triumphant return with their eight studio album, proving precisely why they've lasted so long and still have the awe-inspiring ability to always exceed expectations. The Cluas Verdict? 8.5 out of 10 Full Review: In 1991 in a high school in Ukiah, California, sat four teenagers eager to get involved in the punk rock and hardcore music scene. They decided to start a band and set about learning how to play instruments hoping to emulate their heroes such as the Misfits and The Cure. Now, several line-up changes and some genre-hopping later AFI have presented us with 'Crash Love.'   Their previous album, 'Decemberunderground', was by all accounts a success. It was well received by both critics and fans alike, their first single from the album, ‘Miss Murder’, garnered them some mainstream attention in the US (both ‘Decemberunderg... [Read on]
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09
Arctic Monkeys 'Humbug'
A review of the album 'Humbug' by Arctic Monkeys Review Snapshot: The Monkeys have certainly taken a step forward with this album. Unfortunately, they seem to have stepped into a world of random and/or drug induced songwriting, where coherence is frowned upon, and nonsense is king. Musically, the record is quite interesting, and they've honed their sound significantly, avoiding obvious riffs and uniformly aggressive drumming. Overall, it's a solid album for the band, but I think critics exaggerate when they say that it's momentous; it's well produced, it's darker than anything they've done before, but it isn't quite seminal. The Cluas Verdict? 6.5 out of 10 Full Review: This album is certainly trying for a dark, grotesque, looming feel, but I don't think they quite achieve that. The first track, 'My Propeller', exhibits Alex Turner's new random/drug induced/'deep' lyrics, introducing the first of many excessively... [Read on]
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03
Review Snapshot: Keith Downey’s Ireland based brain child Psychonavigation Records celebrates its 33rd release since setting up nine years ago. It's testament that, in an industry where labels - like acts - come and go,  that Psychonavigation Records is not only still going, but growing too. Cluas Verdict? 7/10 Full Review: Psychonavigation Records was born out of the frustration of a DJ who wanted to get unsigned music out there. It joyfully heralds various acts and DJs alike and gives them a platform to release their music. It’s an admirable as well as a very successful venture and some of the fruits are in this Y9 (ninth year) anniversary compilation. The first thing to note is that there is a broad spectrum covered in the record label. The opening track is a quiet atmospheric number from Buckminster Fuzeboard. It’s a nice opener. Nice percussion with a flute hook as an overtone. “Your Day in the Sun” by GEL-SOL follows. The ... [Read on]
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