The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the album Upside to the Downside by Jabbas

Review Snapshot:  Upside to the Downside doesn't break any new musicial boundaries but its infusion of edgy urban beats and toe-tapping electro-pop ensures that there's pleanty to keep all but the most fickle of listeners coming back again and again.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
Jabbas is a very aspirational young man.  Upside to the DownsideBefore I began to listen to his debut album, Upside to the Downside, I was challenged to cut up everything I thought I knew about rock, pop and dance and throw the pieces into a pot of glue.  Indeed, even then, what came out would only go some of the way to explaining what Jabbas sounds like.  An interesting challenge when you're dealing with something as subjective and emotive as music, I'm sure you'll agree but it is also an exercise well worth undertaking, especially when the album in question, for the most part, delivers.

The record sleeve claims that this album was recorded in bedrooms in Castlegregory and Dublin, and its lo-fi production values will not be to everyone's taste.  That being said, this is the ultimate self-produced record, with Jabbas playing virtually every instrument and proving to be very competent on them all. 

Upside to the Downside opens with the following line 'Baby, I'm your one stop shop for all your needs.'  Generally, it's a promise that Jabbas lives up to.  This record contains a pick-n-mix of musical styles from euro-pop to Beck-esque sleazy rock, without ever sounding disjointed.  The stand out tracks are Electrotable Town, Make Amends, Ephemera and the title track, even if the verses of the later do sound a little like David Byrne's Lazy at times (it even contains the lyric, ironically enough, 'I'm never lazy, I'm always late').  Indeed, it is this feeling of familiarity (despite the number of genres that the album spans) that, paradoxically, will drive some listeners away and keep yet more coming back.  

Overall, Upside to the Downside is, despite the high standards it sets itself, a very accomplished debut album and showcases Jabbas as both a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.  More importantly, it leaves you eagerly anticipating album number two.

Steve O'Rourke

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Nuggets from our archive

2001 - Early career profile of Damien Rice, written by Sinead Ward. This insightful profile was written before Damien broke internationally with the release of his debut album 'O'. This profile continues to attract hundreds of visits every month, it being linked to from Damien Rice's Wikipedia page.