The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011


A review of the USB Compilation (Various artists)

Review Snapshot:  Possibly the most difficult album I’ve ever had to review for CLUAS,’s first ever USB Compilation Album also turned out to be one of the most rewarding, proving, for the most part, that Irish music is in good shape.

The Cluas Verdict? 7 out of 10

Full Review:
For me, great albums have always told a story; each song being delicately structured to fit snugly into the ebb and flow of the overall musical tapestry of the LP. My favourite albums generally come with memorable artwork, lyrics, out of focus photographs, scribbled drunken meanderings or multicoloured feathers. So to be presented with a compilation album on a USB key was always going to be a challenge.

How should I approach this; should I take it on a song by song basis? That’s not really going to result in an album review though is it? Plus, with 15 songs most of you would have stopped reading by the third song. No, I had to approach this one differently and so I took what appears to be the central theme of the compilation, namely the present and future of Irish music and considered how representative this album was.

For the most part this album achieves what it set out to. Bands like The Flaws, CODES and The Kinetiks, if attendance at their gigs is anything to go by, are certainly representative of Irish musical tastes. However, what lets the album down is its noble effort to shoehorn multiple genres of music onto the same compilation. Ro Tierney’s The Voice and Justin Manville’s Tonight, while both good songs in their own right, sound out of place on an album containing bands like Dirty Epics and Vesta Varro.

Stand out tracks are This is Goodbye (CODES), Letting Go (SUDDYN) and The Cure (Dirty Epics) and for very different reasons. This is Goodbye and The Cure both represent the current drive by Irish musicians towards musical landscaping; creating mountains of sound from the foundations of catchy melodies and lyrics. Letting Go on the other hand has an understated charm that’s reminiscent of Damien Rice’s O period (insert ‘he certainly milked that period’ joke here).

Of course, the upside of compilations is that there is generally something for everyone. Tracks I didn’t like, such as Manmade (The Radio) and Shadows (Roberta Howett) may well be other people’s favourites.

Overall, while the idea is commendable, perhaps having fewer genre’s on one album would make for a less disjointed listening experience. Despite that, those writing about the demise of quality Irish music should have a listen to this compilation because the future really is bright. 

Steven O'Rourke

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